Wandering in the Wilderness

Do you ever feel like you are wandering around with no direction?  You’re not necessarily lost; you just don’t exactly know where you are or where you are supposed to be going.

I am currently a wanderer.

I like to plan things.  I like to be organized.  I like to be in control.  I like to have a map.  I don’t always trust the GPS when we go on trips and like to have an atlas close by.  I like directions.  I like order.

Right now I don’t have a map, and it’s killing me.

Currently our pastor (a shout-out to Bob!) is going through the Old Testament through the Old Testament Challenge.  He started it in September and I am LOVING IT! 

Today he talked about lessons from the wilderness. 

After hearing the sermon, I’m pretty sure I would not have fared well as an Israelite in the dessert.

The trip from Egypt to Mt. Sinai was only supposed to take 2 weeks, but instead, it was a year. 

The trip from Mt. Sinai to Canaan was only supposed to take 11 days, but instead, it took 39 years.

40 years in the dessert!  A trip that should’ve taken 25 days took 40 years….yes, 40 years….

Let me tell you.  I get frustrated when the stoplight doesn’t change after a couple of minutes of waiting (today I had to wait 5 minutes at a light in Peoria).  I get frustrated if I miss a turn and have to go around the block (this usually happens on Tuesday nights when I’m picking up kids for TRAIL).  I get mad at Paul when he doesn’t turn around if he has missed a turn (this happens…well, more frequently than I would like).

Can you imagine being guided by a pillar of fire at night and a pillar of cloud by day and wandering for 40 years?  (Someone should’ve invested in a GPS)…

I would not have done well. 

I, in fact, would’ve grumbled.  Yes, I would’ve caved and grumbled right along with everyone else….

They grumbled about where they were….

They grumbled about having no food

They grumbled about having no water

Then they grumbled because of the food that they DID have….

They grumbled…again….

The Israelites should’ve been thanking God for their provisions, but instead they were grumbling.  They should’ve been relying on God, instead they were responding with murmuring, complaining, and grumbling.  

Webster’s Dictionary defines grumble as “to mutter with discontent.”

Grumbing is not to acknowledge difficulty, pain, or suffering.  Difficulty, pain and suffering are a natural part of life and human experience.  But grumbling is to have a mind-set of habitual discontent.  We assume the worse, that something bad is always going to happen, and the mind immediately focuses on the negative outcome. 

According to Bob’s sermon this morning (giving credit is where credit is due):

“Discontent distorts our perspective and twists our view of reality.”

Grumbling about the what if’s deeply affects the soul.  We resort to the past.  Of course, what we remember of the past may or may not be accurate.  (Exodus 16:3).  

Do you ever remember your grandmother/grandfather saying, “Well….back in the good ole days…..”

I think we do the same thing.  Do these words ever come out of your mouth?

I remember when….

When we used to…..

When we lived….

Like the Israelites remembered their past, we often remember ours, too.  However, their memories were falsified (they were slaves; they most certainly did not have pots of meat to eat out of all day) by their grumbling.  And, I think ours are, too.

To grumble means to distrust God.  (Ouch, that hurt just typing those words). 

Daily, I am mistrusting God when I grumble.  As I said, I am currently wandering in the wilderness.  It’s a hard place to be.  It’s a hard place not to grumble.  It’s a hard place to trust. 

And yet, I try. 

Our loving God is compassionately reaching out that we might know that we are loved, redeemed, called out of bondage into freedom.

Therefore, we should move from grumbling to gratitude.  A thanks for the provisions we do have.  A thanks for bringing us to where we are.  A thanks for the past to learn from and a future to look forward to. 

Hebrews 12:28 says, “Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe.”


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