Thank you so much to everyone who submitted a devotion to our contest. Our judges said they read many, many excellent devotions!
And the winner is Sakeenah Graham! Congratulations, Sakeenah! The judges chose her devotion because of the strong biblical teaching, beautiful and heartfelt wording, and excellent structure and organization.
I’m sorry we can’t respond personally to everyone who participated. We will definitely have another contest next year. So keep writing and honing your skills! We know it can feel so vulnerable and risky to put yourself out there by submitting your writing for publication. Amy and I still know how that feels. But the more you do it, the more likely you’re going to hone your craft, find your audience, and grow in God-confidence.
Here’s Sakeena’s winning devotion!
Lately, my days have been running together, probably because they all look the same. Like a scene from that movie Groundhog Day, I wake up, work, pray, sleep, and repeat. Ok, maybe my days aren’t that simple or as funny as that movie, but they seem very monotonous. I expected by now my life would be different. Filled with children, or at least a child, and trying to balance being a working wife and mother. But that’s not my life, at least not in this season. My husband and I are five years into our wait on God’s promise of a family. And most days I feel like I’m wandering in the desert—not sure how I got here, where I’m going, and when I will finally get to the promised destination.
Maybe your days aren’t as uneventful as my oversimplified version. Maybe you have a house full of kids and all the busyness of mom life. Or maybe a demanding job where it seems as if the work never ends. Or a longing for healing, wholeness, or a response to a promised but still unanswered prayer. The repetition endured through days of wishing, hoping, praying for what is to come is shared by us all, no matter how complex the daily routine or how big the prayer. We live in the lack of the present and crave the fulfillment of our future.
I imagine Moses was faced with a sea of people who also had these shared feelings. In Deuteronomy, we read that Moses is preparing the children of Israel to enter the Promised Land. But before they go, he gives what feels like a commencement speech, taking them on a trip down memory lane. Moses reminds them of the promise God made to Abraham, that his descendants would possess the land of Canaan. He recounts the routes they traveled and the battles they won in the desert. He reminds the people of their grumbling and disobedience, their lack of willingness to trust the Lord. Moses recalls his own disobedience and his resulting exclusion from the Promised Land. But most importantly, Moses reminds the people of God’s commandments and instructions for life in the Promised Land. He implores them, almost to the point of begging, for their obedience and devotion to God. His words are a constant call to remember.
We see Moses sharing with the people the reasons for their wanderings. He says, “’Remember how the Lord your God led you all the way in the desert these forty years, to humble you and test you in order to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep His commands’” (Deuteronomy 8:2 NIV).
The duration of their journey, those forty years, was not due to the people’s inability to find their way. The children of Israel had been to the edge of the Promised Land before. They sent spies to survey the land and did not enter because they were afraid. God, in His lovingkindness, saw that they were not ready for the promise and led them through the desert instead. And the result was a forty-year journey to get back to where they started. Can you imagine being on the cusp of a promise from God but not able to enter and enjoy because of fear?
God had a plan, filled with purpose. He was humbling the children of Israel with each step, showing them how much they needed the Lord. God showed himself strong in battle as they defeated their enemies. In humility, they learned to follow God’s leading by the pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night. They discovered a dependence on God for their daily needs—their clothes and shoes did not wear out, and they ate manna every day for forty years.
God was testing the people, showing them the conditions of their hearts. The countless times they complained and groaned and begged to go back to slavery in Egypt. They were tired of the walking, the wandering, the manna, they wanted more. Does this sound familiar? It does for me. God in his infinite faithfulness and patience did not leave the people. He had to discipline them; train them for what was to come. He let some, like Moses, suffer the consequences of their disobedience. For others, He showed mercy. But God taught them all to trust in Him. Then God set Moses before the people to wrap it all up, to give a review of what they learned. Moses said remember our time in the desert, obey God’s commandments, and keep His instructions. God knew the people would need to remember these lessons for what was ahead of them in the Promised Land.
Friend, I sincerely pray that our wait for the promises of God does not take us forty years. But no matter how long it takes, know that our waiting and wandering is purposeful! Although we may get tired, and we feel weary by the routine of waiting, be assured that our wait is not in vain. We are being purposefully led by our faithful God! God is humbling us, showing us how much we need Him and can depend on Him for our everyday needs. He is reminding us of the past battles He won for us and showing us there is no need to fear the future. God is testing us so we can see where our hearts are prone to disobedience. Take heart, friend. God’s discipline is training us to be prepared for the glorious promises that He has for us.
The children of Israel received their promise from God. They entered the land of Canaan and enjoyed its milk and honey. I am confident that we too will walk into our promises from God, ready to enjoy everything He has prepared for us! But before we get there, let’s follow Moses’ lead and take a stroll down our own memory lanes. Recall the way the Lord has led you—His daily provisions, His victory in our battles, and His unfailing grace and mercy despite disobedience. Friend, hold tight to the call. Remember and rest in God’s love as we journey to His promises.
Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for leading us through our wanderings. Thank you for providing everything we need for this journey. Thank you for making it purposeful and preparing us for what is to come. God, we ask for strength as you humble, test, and train us. Soften our hearts to be sensitive to your direction and obedient to your Word. We know you will bring us safely into your promises. In Jesus Name, Amen
Sakeenah Graham is a new writer eager to share her love of the Lord with others. She is an Administrative Judge by day and uses her legal skills to study scripture and write by night. Sakeenah has a passion for women who are hurting and hiding in plain sight. She invites others to join her on a journey to healing and wholeness. She lives in Maryland with her husband, David, and their cuddly miniature schnauzer, Samson.
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