When I was a newer believer (I say newer because I still am yet a new believer, and hope to always see myself that way) I was much more self-righteous than I am now. I still am, but I’m hoping I’m at least slightly less than I was at first.
I still have spells of that vile feeling of ‘better-than’, but I have worked at least a bit of that out in the past few years.
Being self-righteous caused me to read the scriptures in a certain way.
I was never the Jews complaining in the wilderness or straying from God,
I was the leader, who was burdened by the people.
I was never the people calling for the release or Barabbas and the crucifixion of my Lord;
I was Pontius Pilate, washing my hands of the business.
I was never Peter or Judas, denying and betraying Jesus,
I was the perfect disciple (at least in my own eyes) and never the hypocritical Pharisee.
I have at least in part changed some of that, due to the work of the Holy Spirit in opening my eyes, seeing the scriptures this way probably feels similar to something David would have known, as Nathan proclaimed, “You are that man!”
(Again, in that story I thought I was Nathan for years)
This rang especially true for me as I read the account in Numbers 11 of the Israelites complaining about their circumstances.
Now the mixed multitude who were among them craved more desirable foods, and so the Israelites wept again and said, “If only we had meat to eat! We remember the fish we used to eat freely in Egypt, the cucumbers, the melons, the leeks, the onions, and the garlic. But now we are dried up, and there is nothing at all before us except this manna!”
I realized how close this hit to home. You see my wife and I just moved to a place we used to make fun of and despise, saying, “I hope we never have to live there!”
As is so often the case, that place is exactly where God was moving us. I was unemployed, and he provided us a job there.
We still complained for the first few months, because we still held on to the hope that it might only be temporary.
But now he has given us yet another undeserved blessing, a promotion to what I think is my dream job (I can’t know for sure until I start next week). And it’s starting to look like he might have us here for a while.
The ungratefulness in my spirit hit me like a ton of bricks.
This whole thing, the moving around, the jobs, the ministry, I’ve made it about me! I’ve made it into, “yeah god I’ll do your will but only if it’s like this or that” which means I really just want to do my own thing and expect God to be a part of it.
I wanted meat instead of manna – even though the manna was from the Lord
I wanted city instead of desert – even though the city meant slavery
God has been bringing us through the desert, and I’ve been whining the whole way, forgetting that we’re on our way to the promised land.
Not only that, I’ve realized that I’d rather be in the wilderness with God, than in Egypt or Babylon alone.
Father we ask forgiveness for our ungrateful hearts, we ask that we’d seek your presence and be fulfilled in you alone, and not seek wholeness anywhere else. Lord have mercy on me, a sinner.