Award-Winning Faith

The Fellowship  |  November 21, 2019

a young boy in shadow standing on a cliff with his arms raised in victory

Here are the stages in the journey of the Israelites when they came out of Egypt by divisions under the leadership of Moses and Aaron. At the LORD’s command Moses recorded the stages in their journey. This is their journey by stages: — Numbers 33:1–2

During this season when we give thanks for God’s many blessings and His faithfulness, enjoy this collection of devotions on what it means for us to be people of faith. As an expression of your faith and thankfulness, find out how you can help elderly Jews in the former Soviet Union who are alone and in need of lifesaving assistance this holiday season.

From age nine, Vanetta Flowers dreamed of competing in the Olympics. At age 22, Vanetta was a top athlete in sprinting and long jumping. However, as great as she was, Vanetta failed to make the Olympic team that year. Determined to pursue her dream, Vanetta trained four more years. At age 26, Vanetta was in the best shape of her life. She tried out again, but failed once more.

Journey by Stages — Numbers 33:1–2

Just as she was about to give up her dream, Vanetta’s husband encouraged her to try out for bobsledding. There were two requirements – to be a good sprinter and a good long jumper. Vanetta made the team and headed toward the Winter Olympics in 2002. Yet, not long after, she was cut from the team. Vanetta still didn’t give up and continued to train as though she were still on the team. With just weeks to go until the Olympics, Vanetta was asked back to the team. She went on to become the first African-American woman to earn a gold medal at the Winter Olympics.

Friends, sometimes the path we take in life is filled with twists and turns. Sometimes it even seems that we are traveling in the opposite direction of where we want to go. Yet, like Vanetta, we need to persevere and hold onto faith.

In Jeremiah 2:1 we read, “I remember the devotion of your youth, how as a bride you loved me and followed me through the wilderness . . .” This verse is referring to the events mentioned in Numbers 33:1–2, which lists the 42 stops made by the Israelites as the Lord led His children on their way to the Promised Land.

Consider this: Much of the time, God was actually leading the Israelites away from the Promised Land. In theory, the whole journey could have taken them only 11 days, but instead it took them 40 years! Why? Because God knew that in order for the people to achieve their ultimate goal of living in the Promised Land, they had to take the circuitous route which would prepare them for their new homeland. So when God praised the children of Israel for following Him in the desert, we have a whole new appreciation. Even as God led them away from their dreams, the Israelites obediently followed Him. Now, that’s faith!

Let’s be inspired to follow God even when it seems that He is leading us in the wrong direction. God is the perfect guide and He will always lead us faithfully. No matter how many setbacks you encounter on the way, God will lead you to the right destination.

Find out how you can help elderly Jews in the former Soviet Union who are alone and in need of lifesaving assistance this holiday season.


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