been walking alongside the nation of Israel as they journey from slavery in Egypt to the land promised to them. it’s been a long journey, and all along the way they have talked about death….they seem so often to be fearful and obsessed with death:
at the very beginning of their journey: “Would that we had died by the hand of the Lord in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the meat pots and ate bread to the full, for you have brought us out into this wilderness to kill this whole assembly with hunger.”
Part way through: “But the people thirsted there for water, and the people grumbled against Moses and said, “Why did you bring us up out of Egypt, to kill us and our children and our livestock with thirst?”
at their destination-right outside the land: “And all the people of Israel grumbled against Moses and Aaron. The whole congregation said to them, “Would that we had died in the land of Egypt! Or would that we had died in this wilderness! Why is the Lord bringing us into this land, to fall by the sword? Our wives and our little ones will become a prey. Would it not be better for us to go back to Egypt?” And they said to one another, “Let us choose a leader and go back to Egypt.”
At the beginning of their wilderness wanderings (the result of the above rebellion): “And the people quarreled with Moses and said, “Would that we had perished when our brothers perished before the Lord! Why have you brought the assembly of the Lord into this wilderness, that we should die here, both we and our cattle? And why have you made us come up out of Egypt to bring us to this evil place? It is no place for grain or figs or vines or pomegranates, and there is no water to drink.”
it has been a hard road-this journeying out of slavery and into freedom. it seems to me that their early cries are a question of; “is the Lord with us or not?” but then move into “is the Lord for us or not?” so often thinking that anything else, even death or slavery would be better than this.
i’m moving along on a journey out of slavery and into freedom too. and i ask the same questions. it comes as no surprise really, these questions all got started in that garden with that theiving serpant.
she says words that make me cringe and my blood begins to boil. i halfheartedly try to talk my pounding heart down enough to get past the hot button words she’s used and actually listen to what she is really saying; “compared to the alternative, followers of Christ do get a better life.” i don’t hold back and give in to the pounding heart rather then the listening one; “that all depends on your definition of a better life. followers of Christ get beheaded.” my cynicism wounds and i see it too late to take the words back. she stumbles over her response and the pounding in my heart gives way to the sting of understanding my sin and my cynicism.
in many ways i’ve been being made aware of my tendencies towards cynicism-and i’m beginning to see it for what it is; hopeless acceptance of grief.
i’m right there with those Israelites-wondering if the Lord is for me or not- if the path the Lord has sovereignly brought me on is meant to destroy me and my children and my livestock. i see that going back to Egypt is not an option, and so i resign myself to wandering around in the desert-because i’d rather be wandering around in the desert with the Presence of the Almighty God, than back in Egypt without Him.
but oh the difference it all makes when i move out of that acceptance without hope cynicism and into the truth that…..
You have a Father’s heart
and a love that’s wild
because i’m reading the Israelite’s story, i am able to see beyond their current circumstances causing them to fear death. i can see the Father’s heart and wild love. i can see that it has never been the Lord’s intent to bring them out of Egypt to starve them or kill them. it has been His intent all along to bring them out of slavery and into His presence. to be their God, their hero, their provider. To give them not just a land flowing with milk and honey, but to give them the gift of Himself, of knowledge of Himself.
and so it goes with me. He is with me and for me. He is for you too.
During the forty years that I led you through the desert, your clothes did not wear out, nor did the sandals on your feet. You ate no bread and drank no wine. I did this so that you might know that I am the LORD Your God.
Lift your eyes and look to the heavens:
Who created all these?
He who brings out the starry host one by one,
and calls them each by name.
Because of His great power and Mighty strength
not one of them is missing.
collect wages from your grief work….there is hope…
to draw further in: Exodus 16, 17; Numbers 16; 20; Isaiah 40:26-31; Jeremiah 31-in The Message