The past two months have been a bit rough. I think I’ve gone through every emotion imaginable–sometimes within an hour. Oh, how often I longed to be whisked away to a pain and worry free palace! But God knew better. He wanted to take me deeper, to show me His love and tender care in new ways. To center me in those things of eternal value and free me from everything that gets in His way.

I’m so glad God looks beyond my momentary comfort and happiness. Sitting here with my Bible beside me, I’m rejoicing in all the ways God showed up over the past few months, all the words of encouragement He provided through Scripture, through friends, through praise songs. It’s like being nestled on the couch beneath a warm blanket on a stormy day–priceless. And I wouldn’t change a thing. Well, maybe I’d change one thing–I’d learn to deeply abide during times of sunshine not only times of hail. Today, Laura Hodges Poole reminds us to seek God, draw near to God, surrender to God, whether He places us in a castle or in the center of the Mojave.

Palace Living by Laura Hodges Poole

Remember the old TV show “I Dream of Jeanie?” Suppose you were Larry Hagman’s character, Major Anthony Nelson. You’ve found the magic lamp and the genie has given you three choices of where you can live:
A palace
The desert
The wilderness
Which did you choose?

Don’t get too comfortable. J

Now the genie reveals you must leave your first choice and pick from the other two. This is actually where you’ll live.

Not fair?

“One day, after Moses had grown up, he went out to where his own people were and watched them at their hard labor…Moses fled from Pharaoh and went to live in Midian.” Exodus 2:11, 15b.

Moses spent four decades in Pharaoh’s palace, enjoying Egypt’s finest things. He was educated by top scholars, outfitted in royal clothes, and ate delicacies enjoyed by the elite.

What happened to change this?

Between the time Moses stepped out to watch his people and the time he fled, he killed an Egyptian. He alone created a situation in which he had no choice but to flee. However, based on the anger that flared inside of him and prompted the killing, he’d already chosen sides.

Leaving the palace was inevitable.

We don’t know what inspired Moses to step outside the palace and watch the Hebrew slaves work. Perhaps it was something he did routinely. Maybe God had been dealing with Moses’ heart about his destiny. Or he was simply restless. He was forty years old at the time. Whatever Moses’ personal reasons for jeopardizing his elite position, God had prepared him for leadership by allowing him to grow up under Pharaoh.

After forty years in the Midian desert, Moses returned to lead the Israelites out of captivity. God’s perfect will included Moses leading his people from Egypt to the Promised Land. God’s permissive will allowed Moses and everyone else involved to make choices that ultimately led to their demise.

Despite the Israelites’ disobedience, God’s objective was met—and never doubt this will happen—it always happens regardless of our disobedience. But those involved didn’t reap the harvest because they didn’t obey God with their whole heart.

Although Moses was barred from entering the earthly Promised Land, we see in Matthew 17:3, he did indeed make it to the eternal one. While our sin does not always directly connect to our hardships and trials, the original sin in the Garden of Eden does. God is a patient God, not wanting anyone to perish (2 Peter 3:9). Therefore, we must tolerate this fallen world until He deems it time to bring believers into the new heaven and new earth.

Most of us have never lived in a palace. But if we were to reflect on our life, especially in this country, we can see the times we resided metaphorically in each of these three places.

Sometimes we’re forced from the palace by life events. God calls some of us to leave our comfort zones to go into the wilderness.

Jesus spent time in the wilderness, most notably after a joyous event—his baptism. John the Baptist made his home in the wilderness.

However we manage to arrive in the desert or wilderness, if we spend our time searching for the path to the earthly palace, we fail to learn the lesson derived from dwelling in the desert or wilderness. Because God’s intention is to grow and strengthen us for His work.

Next week, we’ll talk about how God meets us in the tough places. Meanwhile, never forget—

God dwells with us in all circumstances!

What is your wilderness? If you’d like prayer, please email me or leave a comment. I’d love to hear from you. Your experience could be an inspiration to others struggling, as well, so please share, if you feel led.


Laura Hodges Poole is a freelance writer with three dozen articles, devotions, and short stories in publication. Her articles have appeared in media such as Reach Out Columbia, P31 Woman, WOW-Writing on The Word, Christian Devotions, Evangel, Christian Home and School, Our Town, and Independent Mail. She writes Christian romance novels and is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW). She is a 2012 RWA Emily finalist. Among her non-fiction work is a book she co-wrote, Laurie’s Story: Discovering Joy in Adversity. She is an Associate Editor with Christian Devotions ministry. Laura lives in South Carolina with her husband, and they have two children. Her passion is encouraging others through her blog, “A Word of Encouragement,” at

Join us at Living by Grace today as we talk about the various places God takes us and how each transplant is an act of love and grace. This morning, as I typed up today’s post, I thought of the words spoken by Job thousands of years ago: “I had only heard about You before, but now I have seen You with my own eyes.” In other words, Job’s trials brought him closer to God.

Where are you right now? In the castle gazing out on an abundance of blessings? Pause to draw near to the Giver. Don’t let the good things in life distract you from the most precious gift of all.

Perhaps you are stuck in a wilderness shack looking back  with longing on the green pastures of your past. Let it go, and let God be with you in that shack. You might just find this time to be one of the most beautiful experiences of all–a time where God holds you closer than ever before and reveals yet another layer of His faithful, loving, tender character.

And make sure to come back to Living By Grace Friday and Saturday for a continuation of our in-depth look at the book of James.

Today’s post really hits home. Over the past year, I prayed for a solution to some issues my husband faced at work. A stock market rise that would allow him to retire, blessings on my freelance work that would provide the same, a massive cost-of living deduction. But God had other plans, and as I type this, I am in a hotel room waiting for our daughter to finish her last day of school before we leave our beloved Kansas City behind.

As a mom, my heart wrenches. This has been–will be–an extremely difficult transition for our daughter. Each day, my heart cries out to God, wanting Him to fix it, to shelter her. But He calls me to surrender, to entrust my most precious treasure to His loving hands.

I can’t help but wonder, will I ever truly reach full surrender? As you read Laura’s post, pause and consider your own faith walk. When you pray, do you end with “Your will be done”? If so, tell us about the peace you’ve experienced because of this. If not, let’s talk about ways we can move toward that.

The Power of a Dangerous Prayer by Laura Hodges Poole

“When an answer I did not expect comes to a prayer which I believed I truly meant, I shrink back from it; if the burden my Lord asks me to bear, be not the burden of my heart’s choice, and I fret inwardly and do not welcome His will, then I know nothing of Calvary love.”—Amy Carmichael, missionary.

Prayer has been called many things, but I doubt few consider it dangerous. How would you characterize something which has the potential to end your existence as you know it?

That doesn’t make sense, you might be thinking. Prayer is a solace place we enter to meet God. We bare our souls, share our heartaches, offer petitions, and intercede for others. Sounds like a neat, safe place to abide. And it is.

But suppose you yearn for a deeper, richer relationship with God—to live fully in a manner you’ve not fathomed before. Are you willing to push your spiritual life outside of its comfort zone and into the danger zone to do so?

The five scariest words we could utter during prayer, many people don’t—or won’t. Praying these words mean death—death to self—an end to selfish desires and the beginning of God’s desires to define our lives.

Safety nets are stripped away—power is relinquished.

The five words?

Not my will, but Yours.

Now, let’s get real for a moment. I mean really real. Think of the most monumental problem you’re facing. You may even have a pretty good idea of how to solve it, if everything would just work out the way you imagine. Are you willing to turn loose of your solution?

Makes your heart skips a beat to consider giving the problem to God, then utter, “not my will, but Yours,”—and mean it!

My sister Teresa shared her insights on my last post When God Comes Calling, and they are applicable to this post, as well:

“This hits home for me. I prayed a prayer that my pastor encouraged us to pray one night; a prayer that God show me what HE wanted me to do for Him (not telling Him what I wanted). A few days later, I was headed to Jonesville, VA, on an ASP trip [after a last minute cancellation of another team member]. What a blessing that mission trip was to me! I prayed that specific prayer a month ago, and 2 days later my husband was transferred to Brunswick, Ga. Now, I’m praying that prayer to see what God has in store for me to do to honor Him in Brunswick. I learned a long time ago, it’s not about me, it’s about what I can do for His glory.”

Teresa has left Florida only a handful of times in the last thirty years and has never lived outside of the state. At age 53, she is embarking on new endeavors because she yielded control of her life to God.

Is the unknown scary? Sure. Has God’s will pushed Teresa outside of her comfort zone? Most definitely. However, the blessings she has experienced as a result of praying those five scary words are immense.

Though you’re not guaranteed instant gratification or easy solutions to your petitions, God’s will provides the perfect answer. Christ prayed the same words when he faced death on a cross (Luke 22:42). God’s answer didn’t spare Jesus’ life—instead it granted life to millions of others.

Let me add one caveat. Please don’t hear me say what I’m not. There’s nothing wrong with goals and desires. God gives us those desires (Ps. 37:4). He designed man to yearn for progress. The million dollar question is—Are you willing to give those desires back to God and say, not my will, but yours, and trust Him to bless you?

God’s answer often weaves a beautiful pattern which, in hindsight, you marvel over its brilliance. He doesn’t grant that beforehand—only after you’ve exercised faith by relinquishing control.

So, are you ready to pray dangerously by submitting to the Ultimate Power? I’d love to hear from you about how God has worked in your life when you’ve done so.


Laura Hodges Poole is a freelance writer with three dozen articles, devotions, and short stories in publication. Her articles have appeared in media such as Reach Out Columbia, P31 Woman, WOW–Writing on the Word, Evangel, Christian Home and School, Christian Devotions, Our Town, and the Independent Mail. She writes Christian romance novels and is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW). She is a 2012 RWA Emily finalist, with her fiction manuscript placing second amongst a nationwide field of Christian and secular entries. Her non-fiction work includes a book she co-wrote, Laurie’s Story: Discovering Joy in Adversity (2011). Laura lives in South Carolina with her husband, and they have two children. Visit her blog, A Word of Encouragement at

Let’s talk about this!

What are you praying for right now? Are you willing to accept God’s answer, regardless of what it is? What makes this hard? More importantly, what will make it easier to entrust your entire life and your loved ones, into His care?

For me, I am remembering God loves my daughter even more than my husband and I do. I am remembering all He’s done for her over the years, and I’m trusting in His promises found in His Word.

Join us at Living by Grace as we talk about prayerful surrender.