I have been reading through Numbers and have experienced the insatiable people, Israel. However, I must confess that many times when I read about the wandering of Israel in the desert, I see a mirror image of my own life. I could try and be super-spiritual this morning and express how ungrateful and forgetful Israel was of God’s hand on their life and give a few pointers how we can avoid this danger. But, I will refrain. Thus, I will point out the log in my own eye as I read about the bi-polar spirituality of Israel.
I too have the proclivity to praise God when moments are good, especially when I get what I want, but quickly turn to being frustrated, not necessarily at God, but towards life and even others in my life (family). This frustration could be reacting in anger towards my children, dismissing them, not enjoying spending time with them or failing to enjoy the stage of their life; or the frustration may lead to refraining from giving and displaying [the] love my wife deserves. This frustration is nothing more than self-centeredness and an indictment of the frustration I have towards God because of the season of my life. So, in other words, I am not so much frustrated with those around me, as I am towards God for my life’s situation.
This is similar to the way Israel acted towards God. One minute they extolled him (after a victory or miracle), the next they were frustrated with him and their situation. The situation over the last six months have been very difficult on my wife and I. We had felt earlier this year that God was leading us to resign from the church we were serving, and began the process of discerning God’s new direction. These past six months have felt very much like a wilderness season—waiting on the place God is calling and leading us. In this season I have experienced an insatiable desire, very much like Israel. My devotional life and prayer life is healthy, and overall my family life is healthy; however, in my failure to trust God for the future, I find the desert season spurring frustration and discontent in my life—that unhealthily affects the ones I love.
Thus, what I can learn from Israel is two-fold. First, I must learn that the wilderness is just as much part of God’s plan as the place he has for me. In addition, I must learn that the wilderness is not the destination, but part of the journey. Therefore, the wilderness may make for a better learning environment about the protection, provision, and presence of God, even more so than the place he is taking us. In other words, in seasons of dryness our faith and relationship with God are pretty much all we have, and clinging to him in the wilderness season will leave us embracing him in the next season. Second, life is one big wilderness season, which the bible teaches is temporary. The wilderness seasons that happen within life also represent this greater reality. In addition, what God does with Israel represents and foreshadows this. If God does his work in us, in this life, utilizing victories, miracles, defeats, heartaches, losses and the affects of man’s sin, we will long (while in this wilderness) for the city of God, the holy land, a land of eternal rest. It is the author of Hebrews that paints this picture (Heb 4). Therefore, looking towards the future, both temporally and eternally, helps us live in proper perspective in the present. It helps us to live at peace with God knowing that he is directing and guiding us to where he would have us, as well as, helping us to live at peace with others, especially the ones we love. Now, on to applying this to my life.