If I could summarise my takeaway from Family Camp 2019, it would be that – a reminder that above all, in my life, I must determine to seek Him above all things.
To provide some context – I’m 29 years old this year, in my 5th year of private practice as a disputes lawyer, and my 2nd year of marriage. In some ways, it feels like I’m at a crossroad in life. On the work front, hours continue to be long, and it’s come to a juncture where I need to re-assess, consider what is it that I want to build up in my career, whether the path of private practice is for me. On the family front, there is work that needs to be put in to building the young marriage that I have. This entails, amongst other things, considering questions such as what sort of family we want to be – what practices would be want to instil in our home, would we want to start a family, when would be want to start a family, how would that work with my career, etc.
For awhile now I have felt deeply burdened and weighed down by these life questions that seemed to have no right answer. I saw everything as irreversible decisions that need to be made, and I was petrified of making a wrong decision that I expected would then fill me with regret.
When I shared my worries with the pastors, a common response was that I ought to wait on the Lord. But the truth is, I never understood that concept fully enough to apply it meaningfully in my life. It also didn’t help that I am quite an impatient person that has the tendency to take things into my own hands. I associated “waiting” with idleness – a pure “wait and see” – and just couldn’t grasp that concept. So I paid lip service and told everything that, yes, I was “waiting on the Lord”, even though the truth was that I continued in my own way, and continued feeling like I was in this state of limbo.
However, as Pastor took us through the book of Isaiah, I realized that my understanding of “waiting on the Lord” was so wrong. Waiting on the Lord really meant that we had to open our eyes and ears to His Word. This, in turn, was predicated on us desiring a relationship with God. As it says in Isaiah 26:8 – 9:
“O Lord, we have waited for You;
The desire of our soul is for Your name
And for the remembrance of You.
With my soul I have desired You in the night,
Yes, by my spirit within me I will seek you early;
For when Your judgments are in the earth, the inhabitants of the world will learn righteousness.”
I was deeply rebuked by this lesson. It made me realise that, in the frenzy of life, I had completely neglected to involved God in the picture, much less place seeking Him as the core desire of my soul. I had allowed myself to approach these life decisions and challenges entirely on my own and through my own thought process, without making it a point to first meditate on God’s Word and allow it to instruct me. This, in turn, reflected just how spiritually parched I was, and how estranged my relationship with God had gotten. And this made perfect sense, in light of what it says in Isaiah 26:3:
“You will keep him in perfect peace
Whose mind is stayed on you
Because he trusts in You”
As I was far from God, that peace eluded me. So did that joy that comes with the assurance of God’s present and His salvation.
Yet, as much as the Word of God served as a sharp rebuke, it also showed me the depths of God’s love as demonstrated through His promise of restoration for those who would return to Him. In this regard, Pastor shared with us this moving passage in Isaiah 27 that illustrated how God would restore Israel. In verses 2 to 5 it says:
“A vineyard of red wine!
I, the LORD, keep it
I water it every moment;
Lest any hurt it,
I keep it night and day.
Fury is not in Me.
Who will set briers and thorns against Me in battle?
I would go through them,
I would burn them together.
Or let him take hold of My strength,
That he may make peace with Me;
And he shall make peace with Me.”
As was taught at Family Camp, whilst it is upon us to dig our wells of salvation, only God can provide that living water to cleanse, revive and restore us. Our job is to diligently seek this water, to diligently dig deep wells that would allows us to access it. Only then would we be able to find that joy and perfect peace in Him real in our lives.