Monday, February 14, 2011
First of all, Happy Valentine's Day! I used to dread this day because I thought it was all or ONLY about romance. The in between times of being dateless or boyfriendless (no such word, I know), made watching my friends receive roses and candy all that much harder.
It really can be about so much more, I see, now that I am OLDer. It is just a day to remind us of love, the Author of that love and how so very much He sees us through amazing love. So, Happy Valentine's Day. Whether you received flowers and chocolate or jewelry or not, remember there is Someone who truly sees you as beautiful and adorable and loves you with a fierceness that required great sacrifice. He went to battle for you and won.
Now, on to what God has been showing me this past week and weekend. I have found yet another new book called, THE LAND BETWEEN. Ironic isn't it? Here I am writing this blog about the in between times, and this pastor writes a book very similar to the idea of the difficulties of life when we find ourselves in between blessings.
It is a great book though and not just because I think it mirrors my own thoughts. It does challenge me as well. Jeff Manion uses the exodus of the Israelites and their travels in the desert for forty years to review our own desert times.
One particular issue has me concerned. He talks about the dangers of complaining and questioning God too much. He shows how the Israelites went too far. There was a breaking point with God in their questioning and complaining that resulted in no one from the original exodus being allowed to see the promised land, only their offspring.
I always wondered about their constant complaining in the Bible. I mean they are taken out of slavery, across a sea, given food and water, yet complain throughout. Manion helps me understand how very like them I am. He tries for example an experiment on himself to understand their "manna" complaints.
Jeff enjoyed a particular breakfast bar of chocolate and toffee. He decided to go one week only eating those bars for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. He barely made it. By the second day, he was remembering the smells and texture of other food rich in taste and smells as he crunched on his now bland breakfast bar.
Like Jeff, the Israelites were given food daily, manna. It means, "what is it?" They had to gather it each morning as it came on the ground with the dew. They ground it and made cakes. Soon they complained once again as they desired meat.
They longed for meat they remembered even as slaves in Eygpt.
Manion points out that the Israelites, like us, were acclimated to the Egyptian culture. Even though we are citizens of heaven, we are acclimated as well to our world's culture and get used to seeing and doing things "not heavenly" as a result. I have to watch what I read and see on television for example. I can easily slip into a world view that certain lifestyles are to be tolerated and even accepted. I can become numb spiritually.
The problem with the Israelites was not their constant complaining or questioning even, but that they refused to remember His goodness and even learn from God's discipline. They rejected God when they claimed that He had only saved them to destroy them at the hands of the Canaanites. They rejected the many times He had saved them, had spared them.
They also rejected His discipline. The quail (sorry state of California, I think this is your state bird?) was God's answer to their complaint about manna. They wanted meat. Well, as you know in Numbers, God sent them so many quail it was impossible for them to eat it all! "He sent the mother of all quail migrations their way....'Now a wind went out from the Lord and drove quail in from the sea. It brought them down all around the camp to about three feet above the ground, as far as a day's walk in any direction. All that day and night and all the next day the people went out and gathered quail. No one gathered less than ten homers. Then they spread them out all around the camp'"(Numbers 11:31-32).
Manion says this is like a truckload. No sooner had they started eating the quail that the Lord struck them with a plague, killing many people.
This is harsh discipline, isn't it? Manion points out that the Land Between is "painful terrain to traverse....Our actions, reactions, and overreactions can compound the situation." Our stubborness in refusing to trust God, to believe that He is a good God, can make our situation worse.
In the Land Between, God is very interested in the people we are becoming, Manion concludes.
"Be careful what you ask for," I've often heard it said. I think the Israelites would also say, "Be careful what you complain about as well."
Does my complaining and do my desires show not just a human asking God for help, but a lack of trust in Him?
How hurtful that must be for His heart. Here He saves me by sending Jesus to endure the cross and death, and I have the gall, like the Israelites, to require more of Him?
I admit. Trust was an issue of the past. Today, I am a slave to doubt no more. God is good. Jesus loves me this I know for the Bible tells me so. My family and I belong to Him because He has lead us out of the Land of Eygpt and is getting us ready for the Promised Land.
I don't want to miss it by asking for the wrong things or by complaining and missing His mercy.
He came that you might have life and have it more abundantly (John). May your life today be full of Jesus. May you remember His amazing love and patience as you walk this in between time of life.
Happy Valentine's Day.