There was a time I rather looked down my nose at those incredibly foolish Children of Israel. Their repeated failure to be thankful, obedient or even a little trusting just made me shake my head in superior disbelief. The older I get, however, the more grace I am willing to extend to these people who I increasingly realize were just like me.
I thought about them just the other day. Do you remember the beginning of the story, when they were living as slaves in Egypt and crying out to the Lord for deliverance? It seemed that their prayers had gone unanswered but God was working on a plan. One day, in the hot,dusty desert, He revealed that plan to Moses:
"And the Lord said, 'I have surely seen the affliction of My people who are in Egypt and have given heed to their cry because of their taskmasters, for I am aware of their sufferings. So I have come down to deliver them from the power of the Egyptians, and to bring them up from that land to a land flowing with milk and honey..."
The Lord kept that promise. Miracle after miracle so great the human mind can hardly fathom them unfolded before their eyes. They were delivered from slavery and brought to the Promised Land.
They stood on the brink of all they had prayed for and so much more, and this was their response:
"And all the sons of Israel grumbled against Moses and Aaron; and the whole congregation said to them, 'Would that we had died in the land of Egypt! Or would that we had died in this wilderness! And why is the Lord bringing us into this land, to fall by the sword? Our wives and our little ones will become plunder; would it not be better for us to return to Egypt.'"
WHAT??!! Better to return to Egypt? Did they expect the Egyptians to welcome them back with open arms? Did they remember what their lives had been like in Egypt?
We can't be blamed for shaking our heads over that one. However, as I was walking the other day a little glimmer of understanding broke through. It was a cold, cloudy day - threatening rain. It had been rainy for several days, and I was missing the sunshine. It was on the tip of my tongue to complain about the weather when my mind raced back to the summer.
We lived through a record breaking drought this past summer. Everything was brown and dry; the lakes and rivers were shrinking daily. Every morning we woke to a cloudless sky and brilliant sunshine. I prayed fervently for rain. It was almost a physical ache. At the time I vowed that I would never, ever complain about rain again. How could I have forgotten so quickly?
I want to learn the lessons it seemed to take the Children of Israel forever to learn. I want to remember all that the Father has done for me and to be thankful. I want to remember that He has a good plan for my life and to trust Him. I want to remember how much He loves me - that He hears and answers prayer even when it seems that heaven is silent. I want to remember what it was like without Him and the priceless gifts He has poured into my life.
I want to remember, always.
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