Shine On

I’ve been doing a lot of grumbling lately, so I want to say thank you AND I’m sorry to those of you who have stood alongside me lately. This has been one of the scariest seasons of my life (and I’ve had some doozies) and I’ve absolutely hated it…but man am I growing.

I find so many parallels in my life and the stories of the early Hebrews. There’s a reason for that:

Now these things happened to them as an example, and they were written for our instruction…
1 Corinthians 10:11 (NAS)

The last couple months I have related strongly to the Israelites wandering in the desert, delivered a while out of Egypt but definitely not in the promised land. I read something this morning that set me down this track again.

The main source of their frustration and hungry grumbling, I think, was that the “promised land” was just an idea to them. It was a completely intangible promise. FAITH is required to keep walking towards a dream, especially when there is nothing around you to indicate there is any truth in it. They began to question the promise, question how to get there, question the giver.

The same exact tactics used against them are used on us today. In my impatience and frustration, I’ve also pulled my eyes off the promise and resorted to looking around. I see almost nothing that comes close to that dream I’ve been holding on to, waiting for. I’ve started to believe the lie that my dream is too big. I’ve started to consider compromise, just to take my mind off the monotony of sand and manna.

Here is one of the most chilling passages I’ve ever read:

They soon forgot His works;
They did not wait for His counsel,
But lusted exceedingly in the wilderness,
And tested God in the desert.
And He gave them their request,
But sent leanness into their soul.
Psalm 106:13-15

The lies we are told are brilliant – just a twist off of truth. Is a diet of sand and manna monotonous? Yes, sometimes it is! The fact is they weren’t MEANT to eat manna forever. God had no intention of keeping them on that diet long-term. It was simply meant to be a gift while they were in transition. He planned on giving them what they were hungry for, but he also had a right time and place in mind. He wanted them to wait until they arrived at the place they were called to occupy.

Demanding and eating the meat before the right time led to disaster – an unsatisfiable craving, wasting disease, leanness in their souls. It diminished their ability to enjoy life.

It’s so crazy how we keep choosing this option just because it’s tangible in the moment! If we would just wait one more minute in the grand scheme of things, we could have fullness of joy and pleasures forever (Psalm 16:11).

Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.
Galatians 6:9

I ask the Lord to show me lies I’m believing on a pretty regular basis. Today, I honestly didn’t want to hear it, but I let him talk to me about my dream again. Is it too big for me? Wrong question. Is it too big for HIM?

Oh…I do not love a common, ordinary, under-the-radar, go-with-the-flow, low expectations kind of god. Mine is spectacular! He is deep, loud, and magnificent. He shatters mountains with a whisper. He has spoken to me and through me. He has sent messengers to speak out loud. He is so much BIGGER than what we settle for! He calls greatness out of the common. He invites us to be more, to want more, to expect more, to have more.

Ugh – I’m so ashamed that I know this and yet struggle with faith! That I sometimes wish I could put out the spark he’s given just so I could “live simply” (stupidly) with the rest of society, or so I could justify a fleeting desire. Thankfully, he is not going to let me sabotage myself anymore. Once again, when I seek truth, there it is. Flooding me from every direction.

Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think.
Ephesians 3:20

Thank you for prayers, friends. Let’s keep believing for things we cannot see. He won’t give us a dream he can’t deliver.

Into a Good Land

promised landThis has been a rough road lately! I’ve watched more fantasies crumple, and found myself both grasping for the shreds of truth they were built on and wanting to throw them all out the window in anger, frustration, and despair. I’m hungry, and I’m tired of waiting.

The riffraff among the people had a craving and soon they had the People of Israel whining, “Why can’t we have meat? We ate fish in Egypt—and got it free!—to say nothing of the cucumbers and melons, the leeks and onions and garlic. But nothing tastes good out here; all we get is manna, manna, manna.”
Numbers 11:4-6 (MSG)

The craving for what has been left behind is so hard to resist and so easy to excuse. It’s what we know, it’s familiar. Anything else, really, is just a fantasy, or a promise. Have you ever noticed how easy it is to be deceived when you start craving things you were freed from? It’s easy because, let’s face it, it’s what we truly want to believe at that moment. We want to justify a short detour.

The heart is more deceitful than all else
And is desperately sick…
Jeremiah 17:9

Manna – the food from heaven, the bread of angels. A truly free gift, not one that comes with a yoke of bondage. Delivered straight to your doorstep, abundant, and all you need to survive the wilderness. I would love to say that I am always satisfied with it – I almost always am. I’m close enough to Egypt to remember what it’s really like there, but far enough away to romanticize some of its familiarity. The spices. The meat.

Oh man, I really get their whining. To be delivered so miraculously from one reality only to realize the promised land is a long time coming. A place you don’t even know is real. You’re free!! But wandering, waiting, with nothing to chew on but manna, manna, manna. It’s hard to keep waiting for a dream when a beautiful, tasty bird has fallen at your feet.

I’ve noticed the temptation to ask myself what the worst possible outcome of a situation would be…pretty safe since I can’t even fathom some of the repercussions of making a choice like this out of anger, apathy, or greed. This morning, the Lord had me ask another question. What is the BEST outcome that I would be sacrificing for this tempting meal? As much as I would love to close my eyes and ears and stumble into a familiar feast, I don’t want to end here, in the grave of craving (Numbers 11:34). And while the fantasies continue to shatter around me, the promise of a healthy, joyful partnering still stands. No matter how hard I beat at it.

No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.
1 Corinthians 10:13

I’m so thankful for his wisdom, even when I don’t want to hear it. I am fully aware that we don’t want a way out of our temptations…we are not tempted to do things we don’t want to do. But if we let him, he’ll remind us of something better. There is so much strength to be found in that.

He humbled you, causing you to hunger and then feeding you with manna, which neither you nor your ancestors had known, to teach you that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord.

Observe the commands of the Lord your God, walking in obedience to him and revering him. For the Lord your God is bringing you into a good land—a land with brooks, streams, and deep springs gushing out into the valleys and hills; a land with wheat and barley, vines and fig trees, pomegranates, olive oil and honey; a land where bread will not be scarce and you will lack nothing.
Deuteronomy 8:3, 6-9

The Lord is good. I can barely see where my next step is landing, but he knows my future far beyond this life. He has allowed me a tiny peek into what the good land will look like if I decide to choose it. It is going to be well worth the wait.