My study of Exodus this week lands me in chapters 15 to 18:27 as the Israelites are learning to walk with God. They’ve escaped Egypt through the miraculous parting of the Red Sea, and God has protected them once more by leading them (albeit on a long, indirect route) to a safe spot in the desert, a spot where He knew they’d be able to avoid attack.
This was especially important since they’d just come out of an arduous, physically exhausting escape situation. And can you guess what the Israelites’ disposition is, just 3 days out of their miraculous rescue? 3 days out from when they were singing songs of praise in worship of their great God? Well, if you’ve read this story before, you know full well that their disposition was one of complaining, whining, grumbling, and complete negativity, brought on by a shortage of water – as if God wouldn’t be able to provide for them once more? Worse yet, their thinking became faulty in the midst of their miserable attitude, as evidenced by their remembering their time spent in cruel slavery in Egypt as one in which they’d “sat around pots of meat and ate all the food they wanted.”
Really? This is how they characterized their captivity in Egypt – as one big happy meat fest? Oh c’mon now, Israelites! Let’s get real!
Well, before we come down too harshly on our brother and sister Israelites, perhaps we could stop for a minute and ask ourselves, “Does this kind of thinking ever happen to me and to you?” You know, the kind of thinking where perhaps the fear of future unknowns keeps you from moving forward, and worse yet clouds your memory causing you to recall the strongholds of your past as maybe “not so bad after all”? And how often do you and I stop right there with our negative “stinking thinking” rather than compound the situation by taking it one step further, barking out complaints, whining, and grumbling to anyone and everyone we can get to listen?
Yes, that’s what our Israelite compadres did when they accused Moses of bringing their entire assembly out into the desert to starve them to death. Sheesh! Can you put yourself in Moses’ sandals for just a quick second?
I’d have had to whip those bad boy strappy shoes right off my feet, thwap a few Israelites upside the noggin with ‘em, and go running for holy ground faster than a dog on roller skates!
And checking back into the real story in Exodus, that’s sort of what our buddy Moses chose to do. Well, maybe not the shoe-slapping incident, but definitely the “running to God fast” part. Moses opted for running to God, time and again, as he continued to lead the Israelites on their desert journey. The Bible tells us that, “Moses prayed and the Lord answered.” Is this your typical pattern? i.e. consistently running to the Lord in prayer? Who is grumbling against you right now? Or maybe there’s someone you are grumbling against? What about surprise disappointments? How are you responding to those? Do you find yourself complaining about your circumstances, like the Israelites? The truth of the matter is that God is the God of all circumstances, and when we complain, it shows our lack of trust in Him, just as in the case of the Israelites. Anytime we grumble, it’s against how God has ordered our lives. How foolish we are to think that we have the power on our own! Apart from the Lord, we can do nothing. (John 15:5)
So now that the Thanksgiving holiday is behind us and we look ahead to the joy of Christmas and a new year in 2015, will you join me in focusing on the positives, seeking to find what is good and what is going well this holiday season? Will you commit to cultivating a heart of gratitude knowing the truth that God provides in times of both sweetness and bitterness? He is there-ALWAYS, so for me, it’s going to be an effort toward less grumbling and more trusting. How about you?