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How About Timbuktu?

It seems like things just keep piling up on me and around me. I am so weary! I’ve made more mistakes in the last ten days than I have made in the last ten years! I called a friend this afternoon and we comforted each other with gasps and groans: “No. Not really? I can’t believe that! Bless your heart. I understand dear Friend,” and “I am so sorry.” After I had gone through my lengthy list of complaints and she finally finished her sad tale of woe I told her, “I’m planning a trip alone to Timbuktu [1] – going to stay for a while, would you like to go with me?” Her answer, “I can be ready in twenty minutes, can you wait for me?”

The Psalmist says it this way: Oh, for wings like a dove, to fly away and rest! I would fly to the far off deserts and stay there. I would flee to some refuge from all this storm (Psalm 55:6-7). (I wonder if he knew about Timbuktu?)

Have you ever had such thoughts? Oh, just this afternoon? Me, too. But, that isn’t an option for us, is it? We’re where God wants us at this time in our lives, so here we stay. And we are more than conquerors, we are filled with His Spirit, able to do all things in Christ, sheltered by His wings, and other incredible promises. (But Timbuktu still sounds nice.)

Habakkuk wasn’t a major prophet and very little is known about him. He was given a word from God, an ominous word, to make known to the people of Judah. “God is going to use the Chaldeans to punish us for turning our backs on Him.” It’s interesting that Chaldea was a very sinful nation, yet that nation was going to be used by God to work in the lives of His people in Judah. That, in itself, is something for us to think about. It isn’t that the other nation is righteous, deserving God’s favor. God can use anything or anyone to bring about His will in our lives, regardless of their Spiritual condition. In fact God tells Habakkuk that as soon as Chaldea has accomplished what He has planned for them to do, He will destroy them.

Habakkuk spreads the word but he is the only one who really believes that God will do as He said. “God wouldn’t use a country as wicked as Chaldea to do His bidding!”

God gives this encouraging word to Habakkuk: “But these things I plan won’t happen right away. Slowly, steadily, surely the time approaches when this vision will be fulfilled. If it seems slow do not despair, for these things will surely come to pass. Just be patient. They will not be overdue a single day (2:3 TLB)!” Habakkuk takes God seriously and is frightened: I tremble when I hear all of this; my lips quiver with fear. My legs give way beneath me and I shake in terror (3:16 TLB). But wait! Listen to Habakkuk’s final thoughts after acknowledging his dread and fear. Even though the fig trees are all destroyed, and there is neither blossom left nor fruit, and though the olive crops all fail, and the fields lie barren, even if the flocks die in the fields and the cattle barns are empty – yet I will rejoice in the Lord; I will be happy in the God of my salvation. The Lord God is my Strength, and He will give me the speed of a deer and bring me safely over the mountain (3:17-19 TLB).[2]

Habakkuk paints a bleak picture for us where everything “seems to be piling up on me!” (Reread paragraph one.) And I think he would probably be ready to go with us to Timbuktu – “Give me thirty minutes.” But Habakkuk knows God. His brilliant splendor fills the earth and sky; His glory fills the heavens, and the earth is full of His praise. What a wonderful God He is (3:3-4 TLB)! He knows that God is his Strength, that God will pull him through this mess, and that God is all he needs!

So what do we learn from Habakkuk? (1) God will not allow us to continue mocking Him. He will not allow us to continue in our harlotry. And what is meant by harlotry? Giving our heart, mind, and body to something other than God, giving our time, our thoughts, and our very souls to something other than the One who created us and loves us – so much that He gave His life for us! e.g. Money, prestige, TV, career, sports, authority, clothes. (2) He will use whatever He needs in order to humble His people, get their attention and bring them back to Him. (3) It’s all right to feel afraid – this is in the job description for your emotions. But you know that God is in control. (4) Stand firm in your relationship with the Lord, no matter what comes.

Ring, ring:

“Hey there, it’s me. I’ll give you a call tomorrow – meanwhile let’s forget that trip to Timbuktu. God is with us, and what an awesome God He is! Isn’t that all we really need?”

[1] A city in the West African nation of Mali.

[2] The words could have different meanings: fig tree: knowledge, fruit of the vine: joy, olive tree: comfort, produce from the field: security, and flocks: strength.

About the Author

Anabel spent decades teaching in many contexts through Lifetime Guarantee Ministries. She has taught countless others how to have a genuine intimate faith and a sound marriage. She shared from her heart about living from the heart. Lifetime’s beloved founder and mentor passed away November 7, 2010. Her legacy and influence are timeless and priceless.