“Woe to the obstinate children,”
declares the LORD,
“to those who carry out plans that are not mine
These are rebellious people, deceitful children,
children unwilling to listen to the LORD’s instruction. (Isaiah 30:1,9)
These men are grumblers and faultfinders; they follow their own evil desires; they boast about themselves and flatter others for their own advantage.
But you, dear friends, build yourselves up in your most holy faith and pray in the Holy Spirit. Keep yourselves in God’s love as you wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to bring you to eternal life. (Jude 1:16,21)
The LORD your God has blessed you in all the work of your hands. He has watched over your journey through this vast desert. These forty years the LORD your God has been with you, and you have not lacked anything. (Deut. 2:7)
The Israelites that were very familiar with their lives in Egypt were grumblers and fautfinders like the people mentioned in Jude. They were obstinate, rebellious and deceitful like the ones spoken of in Isaiah. But after 40 years, things are starting to turn around for the Israelites. They are starting to get it. They are starting to obey. God says not to disrupt a people but to simply pass through and they do. Twice. And life is good. Then they get to another town and God hands them over to the Israelites, just like He said was going to happen in advance. You can see the relationship growing. Things are changing. The tide is turning. A new generation that is unfamiliar with their former lives of slavery is rising up.
Wilderness experiences can be very painful, but they always bring change. Usually it’s a change for the better. If an experience leaves me depending on God instead of myself then it’s definitely a change for the better. Some people seem to have one primary big wilderness experience that brings big change all at once. Others seem to have a series of smaller ones that brings smaller changes in a serial way, each one building on the one before.
As I look back on my life I can see God’s hand – providing, guiding, correcting, protecting. He has certainly blessed the work of my hands, and I have lacked nothing that I needed. He has been with me in the desert. He never let go, not once. Sometimes I think it’s a miracle that I’m even still alive, but I am. And I am so thankful.
How lovely is your dwelling place,
O LORD Almighty!
My soul yearns, even faints,
for the courts of the LORD;
my heart and my flesh cry out
for the living God.
Even the sparrow has found a home,
and the swallow a nest for herself,
where she may have her young—
a place near your altar,
O LORD Almighty, my King and my God.
Blessed are those who dwell in your house;
they are ever praising you. (Psalm 84:1-4)
Just this morning as I pulled into my driveway I was admiring the birds that are raising a family in the bushes in front of my house. One parent had a beakful of food and the other was escorting. They were anxious for me to get out of the car and go in the house so they could feed their babies. I was watching them and thinking about how God is aware of even them and protecting them. Those little babies must have made it OK through that terrible thunderstorm last night. It made me smile. It gave me that “It’s going to be OK – really” feeling (and I just love that feeling!)
God just wants us to give up on our own ways and trust him. Rest in him, in quietness and trust. That can be hard, and sometimes it takes a 40 year battle in the desert, but God is patient and kind.
Better is one day in your courts
than a thousand elsewhere;
I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God
than dwell in the tents of the wicked.
For the LORD God is a sun and shield;
the LORD bestows favor and honor;
no good thing does he withhold
from those whose walk is blameless.
O LORD Almighty,
blessed is the man who trusts in you. (Psalm 84:7)
Lord, help me trust in you.