As they looked up to the sky, I am sure they had a heart and mind full of thoughts. For so many years they were in one place, and now they were wandering around in the desert after a hoped for promise land. The people must have been tired. Constant traveling on camels, by foot, and with children must have exhausted them. I am sure they were happy to be free from their 430 year slavery, but at times I wonder if they thought about going back. God had led them miraculously through the red sea, and provided their hunger need with bread from heaven. God turned bitter water into sweet water for them, and gave them pillar clouds of fire to lead and guide them when they had to walk in the night. God gave them favor in the desert. God provided their needs, but still the people complained and some doubted in the promise land. God gave them the Ten Commandments and the law to help them remain faithful and stay out of trouble, but still they struggled. God gave them the Ark of the Covenant, God’s holy presence, a physical representation and symbol of his covenant and promise to them, but still the people wandered in their hearts and spirits. They built a golden calf once, and danced around it in rebellion to the one true living God. The desert was a trying a place. The desert was a testing ground. The desert was the end for many, because they forsook the promise and became weary in their relationship with God.
As I sit, and reflect on the desert journey of the Israelite people, I cannot help but reflect on my life today. There are many times I have been challenged to walk through the desert and remain faithful for the promise God has for my life and for the church in general. I have never been in a place where God has not provided my need. God has always been faithful to me. God has always given me the desires of my heart, and has allowed me to walk alongside in this journey of life. Yet, at times, my mind wanders. My heart tends to stray.
As a female in leadership, I think a lot about the desert. I have not always received a lot of support for the ministry and leadership God has called me to fulfill. There are times when people have not understood the calling, do not believe in the dream, and are not willing to step out in faith with me. It hurts. It is challenging. There have been many times I have wanted to leave the desert, and stop pursuing the promise land. There have been times I have wanted to turn around, and give up. But I cannot give up on the calling God has given. I cannot reject my purpose. I cannot hide my gifts.
As women in leadership and ministry, we must unite. We should stand strong for each other. We should encourage each other. We need to help others in ministry, and not allow it to become all about ourselves and what we can get out of it. I always try to help other women, even if it means I am not allowed to do certain things. There have been times I stepped back to allow another woman to preach, speak, or mc an event. I did this because other women need to have space created for them to minister. It isn’t all about me, or what I can achieve. It is about the kingdom of God, and building up the people around us and with us.
As we walk through the desert, we need to stand together. We need to stop complaining, and provide support for each other. This year, for the first time I will be able to attend the business meetings at the UPCI General conference. This is an important step in being involved in leadership and ministry within the organization. I am praying that every woman who has their license will attend. It is difficult, because we will have to choose between this OR the women’s breakfast fellowship (which I also believe is important), but part of our calling says we need to go to these voting meetings and allow our voice to be heard. If we will ever be able to change the culture we exist within, we must first live within the culture, and seek to change it with small steps forward and only by the lead of the Holy Spirit.
If you are walking through the desert today, know that God is with you. Know that other women are with you and for you, and that you are not alone. You may not see the bands of strength every day, but we are here. We are all around the world, working in leadership, and building the Kingdom of God! In the end, the Israelite people did find the Promise Land, and eventually the Messiah did come to bring life and hope. Now we wait for the return of our Messiah, and we must constantly live our lives as if the Messiah could return at any time. The desert place is only for a season.
Copyright 2014 Crystal Schmalz