“The whole Israelite community set out from Elim and came to the Desert of Sin, which is between Elim and Sinai, on the fifteenth day of the second month after they had come out of Egypt. In the desert the whole community grumbled against Moses and Aaron. The Israelites said to them, “If only we had died by the Lord’s hand in Egypt! There we sat around pots of meat and ate all the food we wanted, but you have brought us out into this desert to starve this entire assembly to death.” Exodus 16:1-3
You may or may not have noticed that this is only the second blog I have written this year. Let’s just say 2019 hasn’t gone the way I planned! The Lord had many other ideas in mind. One of them being that he was putting me through what I like to call Holy Spirit boot camp. I was well informed at the beginning of this year that it was a year of preparation and promises. I have to admit I was more focused on the latter, but needless to say, God was more focused on changing me on the inside before bringing about any promises He had in store for my life.
While walking through some painful processes over this past year, I learned a lot about my perspective and basically how it needed to change. There was ultimately a point at the beginning of the year where I laid everything out on the table and said: “God, I’m giving EVERYTHING back to you, and I will only pick up what you give to me in return.” I sort of figured He wouldn’t give me anything for nearly five years or more. I had officially given up on ministry, and all the things that go along with what I thought was considered “ministry” so that I would be able to find myself leaning into God for the sake that …he’s God! He was the only thing I needed all along.
There were many times throughout winter 2018-2019 that I had told the Lord, “you promised me the promised land, but you have left me out here in the wilderness to die!” My attitude was nothing short of terrible, and thoughts of returning to old nasty habits were rearing their ugly head. However, I continued on, trusting God leaning into him and his word in the midst of it all. Thankfully through the help of my husband and some dear friends/counselor, I managed to pick my broken self up and soldier on towards Jesus. After pretty much needing to be dragged over the wilderness finish line and back into the “I’m okay” place, it has been very refreshing just to breathe again.
This past week the Lord brought me to Exodus 16, and I was amazed that this bible passage that I had read probably at least ten times in my life now seemed to stick out to me like a sore thumb. I saw the orphan/slave mentality bursting forth in scripture with my eyes wide open in revelation. The astonishment that overtook me was… “this is where I lived this past winter, and oh my gosh, I was a grumbling Israelite!” I couldn’t believe that I had forgotten my identity as a daughter of the king!
While the Israelites were in slavery for hundreds of years, you can pretty much guess that they had forgotten to whom they belonged. They no longer knew the loving goodness of their providing Father. Even after God’s rescue mission through plagues and the parting of the red sea, they still distrusted him. The slavery, poverty, orphan mentality was the only identity they knew, and this was passed down through generations. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and the Israelites being fully reminded of their Father’s love for them was most likely going to have to be built over time. What do you think the Israelites would have done if God would have taken them directly into the promised land? Without the building of trust in understanding the love and goodness of their Father, they probably wouldn’t have maintained it well.
Exodus chapter 15 says how they were singing, dancing, and praising God for helping them escape Pharaoh, and two months later, they are complaining that God had brought them out of Egypt to die. They longed to go back to their old life, partaking in the food and familiarity of what they had known. Laid before them was an amazing land of promise, and yet it wasn’t anywhere in sight. So God in mercy and grace gave them manna from heaven and water from a rock. Reading this passage today, I realized what would have happened if they simply realized that God was their provider who loved them and desired what was best of them? What would have happened if they just simply thanked God and asked him, instead of complaining?
How many times do we grumble and complain because we have waited what we believe is a viable time for the fruition of God promises, and since it didn’t fall in our laps immediately, we begin to distrust Him? I am totally guilty! There were countless times earlier this year that I continually reminded God of his promises to me, and yet all he kept saying in return was…” I’ve got you, just trust me.”
We are not perfect, and there will perhaps be some times in our lives when we will (hopefully only briefly) forget ourselves and who we are in Christ. I want to encourage you today that if you have found yourself in a wilderness period to not step back into orphan and slave mentality. Lean into God and simply trust him through the process. Ask him what he desires you to learn through this journey because anything he is taking you through now is to fortifying you and strengthening you for the promises. You can’t receive the “promise land” if you’re still thinking, acting, and behaving like a slave.
Also, know you’re NOT ALONE. We all go through these difficult seasons, and this is why we need one another. The body is there to lift up and encourage each other in times of weakness and perhaps, in some cases, even drag us over the finish line if we don’t have the energy to cross it all by ourselves. Be encouraged today that God’s got you no matter what you face! Trust in Him!
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways submit to him,
and he will make your paths straight.” Proverbs 3:5-6
“But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that his life may also be revealed in our mortal body.” 2 Corinthians 4:7-11
“God’s promise to Joseph purged his character
until it was time for his dreams to come true.” Psalms 105:19