It was February of 2015 when the image you see above was planted in my brain because of a dream that I had. It was a dream that was so vivid, that I woke up thinking it had really happened.
In my dream, I was driving a big truck, in a lot of traffic with other vehicles, trucks, and buses around me. I kept coming to a strange two-lane roundabout that had six road exit options. I was lost and kept taking the wrong turn at this roundabout and I would travel that road and end up right back at the roundabout again. Each time I would try to concentrate and take the next option, only to end up back at the roundabout again and again. At the very end of my dream, I had a realization that if I had only taken the exit to my direct left, it would have been the correct turn.
Recently, during my normal daily Bible reading one morning, I read something that reminded me of the image of this dream. Below is the passage I was reading at the time.
Deuteronomy 2:1-3; 7a; 18a NKJV
1 Then we turned and journeyed into the wilderness of the Way of the Red Sea, as the Lord spoke to me, and we skirted Mount Seir for many days. 2 And the Lord spoke to me, saying: 3 “You have skirted this mountain long enough; turn northward.”
7 For the Lord your God has blessed you in all the work of your hand. He knows your trudging through this great wilderness…
18 This day you are to cross over…
In this version of the Bible, which I was reading that morning, the word “skirted” jumped out at me. If you read it in many versions, it will say, “circled…you have circled this mountain long enough.”
The Living Bible says, “You have stayed here long enough.”
The New Living Translations says, “You have been wandering around in this hill country long enough; turn to the North”.
On that particular morning, I heard the Lord say, “Tell them they have circled this mountain long enough, I have seen their trudging through this wilderness…it is time to look up and cross over!”
I’m not sure how many will read this and relate to that statement, but I feel confident there will be some. Sometimes this type of change comes with your own decision and sometimes it starts with God’s command…”IT IS TIME!”
Regardless of which of those two it is for you personally, it will begin with trust. Sometimes we get confused with faith and trust. For that reason, let me give you an example to consider.
I am a pretty strong swimmer. My dear friend likes to spend time with me at the lake, but her preference is to be in water no deeper than her height. If it is deeper than that, she prefers a life jacket.
I asked her to consider a question. If I had a large body of water separating me from safety, and my life literally depended on me being able to swim across with no life jacket, did she have faith in my ability to swim to safety? She immediately responded, “Yes!”
In order to demonstrate the difference in faith and trust, I asked her a second question. If you were there with me, same scenario, would you TRUST me to climb on my back and let me swim us both across to safety?
Do you see the difference in faith and trust in this scenario? She should have said “No” to the second question, because while I feel confident I could swim myself to safety, I don’t think I am strong enough anymore to swim two people to safety. This demonstrates a good point.
If we are honest, sometimes we have faith in God’s ability, but we don’t really trust Him to carry us. While I may not be able to carry my friend, I can assure you God can carry her or any one of us.
Here is the reality. WE HAVE TO TRUST HIM WITH ALL THAT WE ARE…..AND ALL THAT WE ARE NOT!
If God is saying you have trudged through this situation long enough to stop circling it and look up, He is telling you to not only have faith in His ability to do anything, but He is asking you to trust Him to help you too.
Now if you go back to the passage I started with, and read the whole thing in context, you will see there were some directions for them along the way. He didn’t just tell them to stop circling, He gave them some specific instructions for their path forward.
He told them when you get to Moab, do not harass them, or provoke them to war, because I have not given you that land to possess. (Vs. 9) Then if you keep reading, He tells them when you come opposite of the sons of Ammon, do not harass them or provoke them, for I will not give you any of the land of the sons of Ammon as a possession. (Vs. 18)
Now look at what happens when we get down to verse 24.
Deuteronomy 2:24 NKJV
Rise, take your journey, and cross over the River Arnon. Look, I have given into your hand Sihon the Amorite, king of Heshbon, and his land. Begin to possess it, and engage him in battle.
Look also a few more verses down…
Deuteronomy 2:31-34 NKJV
31 And the Lord said to me, “See, I have begun to give Sihon and his land over to you. Begin to possess it, that you may inherit his land.” 32 Then Sihon and all his people came out against us to fight at Jahaz. 33 And the Lord our God delivered him over to us; so we defeated him, his sons, and all his people. 34 We took all his cities at that time, and we utterly destroyed the men, women, and little ones of every city; we left none remaining.
When we read things like this, it seems cruel that they were to destroy even the women and the children, but what we have to realize is the Lord’s command was directly related to destroying future temptation.
Let me show you an example a few chapters later.
Deuteronomy 12:1-4 NKJV
1 These are the statutes and judgments which you shall be careful to observe in the land which the Lord God of your fathers is giving you to possess, all the days that you live on the earth. 2 You shall utterly destroy all the places where the nations which you shall dispossess served their gods, on the high mountains and on the hills and under every green tree. 3 And you shall destroy their altars, break their sacred pillars, and burn their wooden images with fire; you shall cut down the carved images of their gods and destroy their names from that place. 4 You shall not worship the Lord your God with such things.
See the Lord instructed them to destroy the people and places who worshiped other gods. By doing this they removed the temptation of future idolatry.
If you are someone who has been trudging around in circles long enough, I want you to consider what the Lord is speaking to you in this message.
They were instructed to look north. In this context, it is time to look up! You make the decision that it is time to stop trudging through this situation and you look up because your help with come from the Lord!
You need to address your fear or your unbelief. Do you have faith but are lacking trust? There are consequences to unbelief. Most of the original group of the Children of Israel did not get to see the Promised Land because of their unbelief. Joshua and Caleb had a different spirit; they were able to focus on God’s promises more than the seemingly impossible circumstances that they were faced with. We read in the Gospels where Jesus visited certain places and He did not perform many miracles there because of the people’s unbelief. There are consequences to unbelief and we need to ask for help. (Matt 13:58)
Maybe you are not struggling with fear or unbelief but you need to address your cynicism. If you have circled a mountain 40 years, it is easy to stay stuck in that way of thinking. Just like the man who was at the Gate Beautiful, this man was lame from his mother’s womb. Someone carried him to the gate every day to beg. He was stuck in this way of thinking that this was the best it was ever going to be.
Then one day….he begged alms from someone who was full of the Holy Spirit and power and he said,
Acts 3:6-9 NKJV
…. “Silver and gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk.” 7 And he took him by the right hand and lifted him up, and immediately his feet and ankle bones received strength. 8 So he, leaping up, stood and walked and entered the temple with them — walking, leaping, and praising God.
LOOK UP, LET GOD HELP YOU DEAL WITH THE FEAR, THE UNBELIEF, THE LACK OF TRUST, AND THE CYNICISM!
You have to cross over and possess. I will actually take that thought a step farther, you need to go beyond just possessing and occupy!
When you read about the journey of the Children of Israel, there are some parts that just seem difficult to understand. When they were instructed to wipe out certain people that seems harsh, but the Lord knew that in order to totally possess all that He had for them, those things needed to go. You can read example after example in the Old Testament where the Children of Israel did not comply, they would partially obey, and then there would be future consequences because of that lack of obedience.
If there is something in your life that needs to go in order for you to cross over and possess, let it go!
The example I want to close with is the life of Elisha. If you know the background of the story, the Lord directed Elijah to anoint Elisha to take his place as prophet.
1 Kings 19:19-21 NKJV
19 So he departed from there, and found Elisha the son of Shaphat, who was plowing with twelve yoke of oxen before him, and he was with the twelfth. Then Elijah passed by him and threw his mantle on him. 20 And he left the oxen and ran after Elijah, and said, “Please let me kiss my father and my mother, and then I will follow you.” And he said to him, “Go back again, for what have I done to you?” 21 So Elisha turned back from him, and took a yoke of oxen and slaughtered them and boiled their flesh, using the oxen’s equipment, and gave it to the people, and they ate. Then he arose and followed Elijah, and became his servant.
Why am I using this example? Because Elisha did exactly what the Lord instructed the Children of Israel to do so many times. He totally destroyed what might tempt him to look back or go back. His oxen and his equipment was his profession and he was being called to a new profession.
I am certain that there were times of questioning, and difficulties that Elisha faced in this new position, but he made a decision, “I’M ALL IN!” He destroyed the possibility of being tempted to go back.
In my dream, I kept taking the wrong turns, similar to the way the Children of Israel took wrong turns. If you have been trudging around in circles long enough, I want to encourage you to look up! Your help will come from the Lord. He will direct your path and give you direction to cross over. Turn loose of the things that will tempt you to go back to your old way of thinking and living. Move forward with confidence that what God has for you in your future is far better than circling this same old mountain!