By Tez Brooks
"One who has unreliable friends soon comes to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother." Proverbs 18:24 (NIV)
I don't remember much about my childhood. Most early memories are not complete stories, but more like windows of time—blurry snapshots at best. My earliest image was of me staring out the front door of our home. I must have been about three years old.
So young, I didn't really understand what I was feeling or why. Looking back now, I think it was a bit of loneliness. My three older brothers were all in school before I was born. So I often wondered where they went and why was I left behind with Mom.
Holding my favorite toy, I looked out the screen door. Johnny West was a cowboy action figure from the 60s—back when they had hinges on the outside of each joint. Most of his clothes were molded onto his body with a few accessories—all made of brown plastic.
Glancing down the street I wondered what was out there and when could I explore it? Meanwhile, at least I had Johnny West and his horse to keep me company. My hands fidgeted with Johnny's limbs as I daydreamed about a place I was promised, called Kindergarten.
Suddenly something was stinging and I jumped in pain. I looked down and saw the hinge of Johnny's elbow pinching the flesh of my pudgy little finger. My scream came before the tears. I pulled my finger free as my mother strolled in to inspect what ailed me. As any parent of four boys would react, she half-heartedly rubbed my boo-boo, told me I was fine and walked away.
That's it? No coddling?
The rest of the story is missing, but I often wonder why that moment seared itself into my brain. Was it a longing for my first taste of adventure that God gave me—to step out into the world of academia? Was it the loneliness of being separated from my brothers or the betrayal of Johnny West? Perhaps it was the realization that the world didn't orbit around my desires—that sometimes it feels like I'm on my own.
Joshua too must have felt like a child when God called him to lead the Israelites. (see Joshua 1:7-9) There were many moments over the years when I stared blankly out the screen door of life wondering what God had planned—new seasons, new cities, new friends. It can be lonely when those who have gone before us are nowhere in sight. Even today there are occasions when I am anxious to move. My dreams are pinched at times by things that demand my immediate attention. And people whom I expect to offer encouragement let me down.
Through it all, God remains faithful, not only with his timing, but in releasing me from things that hurt. It's in these times that the Lord runs to my aid, because He is an "ever present help in time of need."
I'm never really alone. Joshua wasn't—neither are you.
PRAYER: Lord give me wisdom to discern your perfect timing. Help me know when to step out or wait for you to fully prepare me. Alert me when my worldly possessions distract from your invitation to be a part of something bigger. When humans disappoint, remind me that you're my only true comfort and refuge.
ACTION: Write down five things that keep you from following God in an undistracted manner (i.e. debt, possessions, activities, fear of the unknown, bad attitudes/habits). Ask God to show you how to eliminate those distractions so you can enter into new opportunities with him.
If you are dealing with loneliness or disappointment; make it a point to share this with a trusted friend who will pray for you.
Copyright © 2015 by Tez Brooks. Used by permission.
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Tez Brooks writes articles, screenplays and devotionals with some of his work appearing in The Upper Room, Worldwide Challenge and Eternity magazine as well as serving as Editor-in-Chief for TODAY magazine, a publication of Cru. His most recent books are Imagine Australia (Panographs Publishing, 2011) and The Single Dad Detour: Directions for Fathering After Divorce (Kregel, 2015). He and his wife serve as full-time missionaries with The Jesus Film Project and have lived overseas. They have four children and reside in Orlando.
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