9The Ephraimites, armed with[b] the bow, turned back on the day of battle.
10They did not keep God's covenant, but refused to walk according to his law.
11They forgot his works and the wonders that he had shown them.
23Yet he commanded the skies above and opened the doors of heaven,
24and he rained down on them manna to eat and gave them the grain of heaven.
25Man ate of the bread of the angels; he sent them food in abundance.
30But before they had satisfied their craving, while the food was still in their mouths,
31the anger of God rose against them, and he killed the strongest of them and laid low the young men of Israel.
32In spite of all this, they still sinned; despite his wonders, they did not believe.
34When he killed them, they sought him; they repented and sought God earnestly.
35They remembered that God was their rock, the Most High God their redeemer.
As I read the passage above this morning, I couldn’t help but identify with it. I think we all can, though it is easy to read it in the third person and miss the lesson. How often do we “turn back on the day of battle" though we are equipped with all we need to fight…though we are promised that His grace will be sufficient for us and that His joy will be our strength? How often do we chose our own way and seek our own ends…without prayer…without patience…without regard for even the conviction we feel to the contrary? And like the Israelites, as God continues to “command the skies and open the doors of heaven”…to care for us and provide for us…we are still ruled by our cravings and demand more or something else than what we are being given. In this passage, God’s wrath is kindled and He unleashes it on this ungrateful people. And then it says…”When He killed them, they sought Him… they remembered that God was their rock.”
Isn’t death always the way to that point? Don’t we always have to “die” to self to see and serve the Lord? Before our willful *I* can become “your will be done”?
The other night, some friends and I were talking about where we are right now; our struggles and triumphs and consistent themes and such. I started my turn off by saying “I’ve had to die a lot lately.” And this is true. Daily I come face to face with opportunities to seek my own way or wait on God. Mostly that is the choice…act now or wait on God. I want to act now. I want to see results. I want to see progress. I want to get what I want without the whole annoying waiting thing…and did I mention I want it NOW?!?! But that is not God’s way…at least that is not the way He is leading me at this point. At times, all this waiting is very frustrating. At times, it truly does feel like I am standing on the front line of a great battle and I often don't want to fight...I want to turn away. But, spiritually and realistically speaking, I have no other choice but to fight as He arms me...and at this time it is with faith...obedience...and prayer. To choose another way is to take God out of the equation (as far as my heart and will is concerned) and I cannot do that. I will not do that!
There have been times over the past month or so, when I’ve felt like I was being held in the middle of a hurricane…wind swirling, rain crashing down, frightening claps of thunder ringing in my ears. I look at today, apply it to tomorrow and it magnifies. Upsetting situations become horrific when I look a few years ahead. Disappointments lead to despair when I see them as a trend, rather than an isolated incident. You get the idea.
But this…the hurricane emotions, the forecasted future…all of it…is a big lie. IF God didn’t exist and IF He didn’t promise to work ALL things together for good and IF He had no plan for my future and my hope, perhaps the doom-filled future my mind sometimes jumps to might be accurate. But that is not the case. God does exist and is not slack I keeping His promises. He spoke the world into existence and holds sway even over the hearts of pagan kings. He orders every molecule and every whiff of wind and every “instinctual” habit of every animal and every instance in every life on the face of the planet and throughout all of time. He can handle my piddley little life…and all those that touch it.
But His ways, how He marks time is not the same as mine. That, I think, is where I often get tripped up. I want to conform God to what I can see and perceive and understand. That is utter nonsense. I am but a breath…He is eternal. I know only what I can see and hear and the few things my feeble mind can ponder and expound on. He knows everything…EVER. His ways always prosper. Mine usually lead to death of some kind.
The point…We need to just trust His ways. Period.
But, again…His ways are not our ways.
Psalm 77:19 says, Your way was through the sea, your path through the great waters; yet your footprints were unseen.
When the Israelites came to the Sea, with the Egyptians behind them they saw a trap. God saw…and made…a highway!
Oh Lord…let us see that, too. Whatever our circumstances. Whatever the battle. However much we need to die. Let us trust you. Let us hear you. Let us not turn away. Let us fight your fight. Let us walk your road and none other!