Gotta love 'em.
You know why? Because they're just like me.
I haven't always felt this way about them. I used to judge them, scoff at their faithlessness. Condemn their complaining. Belittle their weak spirits and lack of fortitude.
I used to "critique" their faith.
For heaven's sake, they had the VERY PRESENCE OF GOD there with them in the desert. How could they be so foolish?
Well, turns out that I'm just as human as they were.
I'm currently in the book of Numbers the last couple of weeks in my One-Year Bible reading plan. It's kinda boring – sorry, Lord. (At least Leviticus is behind me – did I say that out loud??) And I have found myself doing that same old judging thing as I've read along. Until one day last week.
I read this:
"Why have you brought us out of Egypt to die here in the wilderness?" (from Numbers 21:5)
I stopped dead in my tracks.
I realized that I had said very nearly the same thing that very same day.
As you know, last week was a tortuous week for me. A valley of fear, a quagmire of anxiety and desperation.
And at one point I said this to the Lord:
"Things were so much easier when I wasn't following You closely. Have You brought me this far just to give me unending trouble?"
The implication, of course, was just what the Israelites were saying…
"God, why are You picking on me?"
I even told someone that sometimes I feel like God is one of those terrible schoolboy troublemakers who pulls the wings off of flies. (Now, THAT is true confession…)
I'm ashamed that I ever thought – let alone gave voice – to those words.
As soon as I read that passage in Numbers, I hung my head, and started to weep.
And then God began to speak.
"Don't you realize that before you were following Me you were in SLAVERY to sin? That you were being ruled by a tyrant? Don't you realize that you are now covered in My LOVE? Even when, especially when, you're in the wilderness?"
And then, I realized the truth. Those Israelites, whom I so easily condemn sometimes, did indeed have the very presence of God alongside them in the wilderness.
But I have the very presence of God WITHIN ME.
In some ways, I am far greater blessed than they were.
It was a rather humbling moment for me. I'm not proud of the thoughts and feelings that drove me to utter such terrible things.
But I know that God can handle it.
I know He forgives me for my honesty. I know His Love covers my multitude of imperfections and weaknesses.
And I know He had a lesson for me in all of this – (many lessons actually).
I realized this one great truth – God was bringing those Israelites through the desert for one very good reason. Yes, He was rescuing them from slavery. But He was also preparing them to take over the Promised Land.
You see, He wasn't satisfied with a motley bunch of whining wilderness wimps. He was grooming mighty, victorious warriors. He was preparing His people to be a nation. He had work planned for them – and they needed to be made into sterner stuff.
I think maybe He's doing the same thing with me.
So, in the aftermath, I'm pondering some deep things. Wondering what God has in store. Asking for more courage as He wrestles the "Egypt" out of me. Praying for His power, His strength, His victory.
As Janette so eloquently said in a beautiful post last week – (see the link here) – "I had to cross a bridge...as the fight started to be won, because He has already won the war on my behalf…my feet started to jog with a lighter heart."
OK, this little *Israelite* is starting to walk again.
And I'm putting on my fighting shoes – even if today they're just sandals.
How are you learning to fight?
"It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery." (Galatians 5:1)
(SIDENOTE: Praise God! My tests results were benign. I can't thank you enough for your warm friendships, your heartfelt prayers, and your wise words of comfort and encouragement. I have been truly humbled by your outpouring on my behalf. I am grateful for every single one of your adorable little faces. I am part of an awesome band of believers!!)
Linked today with Joan at SHARING HIS BEAUTY
BLOG = "Blessedly Leaning On God!"