"The spirit of complaint is born out of an unwillingness to trust God with today. Like the Israelites, it means you are spending your time looking back toward Egypt or wishing for the future, all the while missing what God is doing right now.” - One in a Million: Journey to Your Promised Land by Priscilla Shirer
I really like this quote because it reminds me to stop complaining and to focus on the blessings that I already have. It reminds me to stop longing for the good ‘ole days or worrying about something that is yet to come; but rather to stay in the present.
The Children of Israel complained about everything; especially about the lack of food, the lack of water, and their eminent death in the desert. When they got water, it was bitter and when God provided food, they quickly grew tired of it. They longed to return to the misery of slavery rather than endure the challenge and difficulty of trusting God’s way to the promise.
When I think about how God continues to bless me, I’m ashamed of all the complaining I’ve done in my life; even if I only muttered under my breath. I never want to be identified with the Children of Israel who complained for 40 years and ended up prolonging the journey to the Promised Land. Over the past several years, I’ve learned firsthand that the Wilderness has a purpose. It has allowed me to grow in my faith, to trust God, and to embrace His purpose for my life.
Journeying through the Wilderness is never easy, but it will change us into Joshuas and Calebs, if we are only willing to stop complaining and give a good report (Numbers 14:7-8). Joshua, Caleb and all the people under 20 years old entered into the Promise Land (Number 32:11-12). On the other hand, Moses, Aaron and all the old-time complainers died in the wilderness. Like the old-timers, I wanted to get out of the wilderness as quickly as possible, but there are some very valuable lessons that I’ve learned in the Wlderness:
I learned that He is Jehovah-Mephalti - my Deliverer - Psalm 18:2
Just like God delivered the Children of Israel out of Egypt, He continues to deliver me out of trying and oppressive situations. If it wasn’t for God, I don’t know what my life would be like. My last wilderness experience lasted two years and then it was like someone pulled back a veil and everything changed. He delivered me.
I learned that He is Jehovah-Rohi – my Shepherd - Psalm 23
He is my guide during the day and my light at night (Exodus 13:21). This pillar of cloud by day directs me where I need to go and the pillar of fire by night helps me to steer clear of obstacles. His guidance has turned stumbling blocks into stepping stones. He has shepherded me through some sticky situations.
I learned that He is Jehovah-Jireh – my Provider - Gen. 22:14, I John 4:9, Philip 4:19
Just like he did for the Israelites, He provides me with food (Exodus 16:12-15) and water (Exodus 15:25-27) to sustain me during my journey. But not only that, when I couldn’t see how He was going to come through, He made a way out of now way. When I was downsized from my job, He provided job offers without interviews. When I had more month than money, He sent checks in the mail. When I thought my business was doomed, He sent new clients. He operates that way in my life; particularly when I get out of His way.
I learned that He is Jehovah-Hashopet - my Judge - Judges 6:27
I’m aware that not everyone makes it to the Promise Land. Ask Moses who wasn’t allowed to enter in because of his disobedience (Numbers 20:12 and Deuteronomy 34:1-6). I look back as some of the mistakes I made and I’m thankful that God has given me time to repent. I’m confident that I’ve been forgiven and yet I also understand that God is just , therefore there are consequences for every action I take and decision I make. This gives me pause because I desire to be that faithful servant that hears God say, “well done.”
I learned that He is Jehovah-Kanna – my Jealous Lord - Exodus 34:14
He doesn’t want us to be like the Israelites who created a golden calf just because Moses took too long to return (Exodus 32:1). Instead of looking for ways out of the wilderness and ultimately building a golden calf to help me out, I’ve learned to look to God and wait on Him to see me through. All of a sudden all the trinkets and trophies I’ve amassed no longer have the same appeal. I no longer have a desire to obtain more and more stuff or to hold on to extra trappings. He has taught me to be content with what I have even as He continues to work on me.
I learned that He is Jehovah-Eli – Lord my God - Psalm 18:2
I have begun to really understand the importance of making God a priority in my life and the need to be completely obedient to Him. It’s a work in progress, but I’m learning that His ways are higher than mine. I’m beginning to understand that I have to submit my will to His. Every time that I do, everything works out fine and when I don’t I can expect all kinds of madness and chaos to follow.
I learned that He is Jehovah-Shalom – my Peace - Isaiah 9:6, Rom 8:31-35
It’s not easy to have peace in the Wilderness but it’s a requirement for a successful journey. Sometimes my situation doesn’t look the way that I desire. I’m learning not to look with my natural eyes but allow God to mature my spiritual vision. So I begin to let go the unnecessary to free up space for His plans to flow. I have peace and confidence that God will supply all my needs and bring me into my purpose. If I stop complaining long enough and focus on what God is doing in the present moment, I can actually go look over and see the land flowing with milk and honey. I know with God’s help and power I can overpower the enemy and take possession of the land (Numbers 13:26-33).
I believe that God brings us to the place of the promise when we are prepared. Our Wilderness experience hones us, purges us, and shapes us for our purpose.