Surviving the wilderness

No Walmart, no Costco and plenty of empty stomachs! (Exodus 16)The Israelites couldn’t even find a 7 eleven. Naturally they began to complain that life was better in Egypt where their masters provided everything they needed for their pitiful existence. (Exodus 16:3)The fact that they had no freedom, no rights and could suffer all types of imaginable abuse without any protection was incidental. The point is that they had plenty to eat as long as they depended on their Egyptian masters.

Why had God taken His people to the middle of the dessert and given them nothing to eat?  The Israelites had grown dependent on their cruel masters. It was time for them to learn to depend on their God, the God who with His mighty hand freed them and whose purpose was to make a great nation of them in the Promise land.

In the desert there was nothing. No distraction, no help, and no way for the Israelites to provide for themselves. It was a wasteland perfectly designed to cause God’s people to look to heaven for help. Sometimes in our lives we too are going through the desert or wasteland.  Life seems to offer little hope. We are starving for the satisfaction of some of our most basic needs, such as love, health, comfort, companionship, perhaps food and even a roof over our head. Only God can save us and we finally turn to Him.

It is no wonder that God made it necessary for the Israelites to freshly gather manna every day.  They could not save for the next day and were forced to repeat the same lesson of dependency on their divine maker. God is the most remarkable teacher. It took more than a generation but the Israelites did learn to trust in God and a mighty nation of faith was formed, able to conquer the promise land. God is still making men and women of faith, capable of great achievements. But to do this we must pass through the wilderness of pain, problems and challenges, where there is little that can be found. Alas we are left alone and must learn to turn to the one that will forever be faithful and will never leave us. He will supply every need as the shepherd boy said “The Lord is my shepherd I shall not want.” (Psalm 23:1)

 

 

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When God says no!

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. Proverbs 3:5

Today we will be looking at the curious case of Peter Smith. Peter was a hard working fellow who always managed to do everything on schedule or ahead of schedule. He was also a God fearing man who prayed with regularity. He was married to a nice lady, had 3 kids who loved him and they all lived in a great big house. The only discomfort in life was an hour long train ride he took every day to work and back home.

It was a Friday, right before Labor Day weekend and he had an appointment to meet with his daughter’s teacher concerning her desire to participate in an after school program. Peter gave great importance to his daughter and did not want to be late or miss that appointment. However at the last minute his Supervisor came in and dropped one last report on his lap. He says to Peter, “We need this done before you leave, it can’t wait for Tuesday.” Peter was furious but understood the urgency. He thought to himself “I don’t like to rush but perhaps I can still make the appointment. He made a quick prayer “Lord help me to be quick and allow me to make that appointment.” Peter was so glad when he realized the ease in which he got it done. He printed it out and was half way down the hall way when he realized an error. “How is that possible?” he thought to himself. “No problem I’ll just bring up the file, make the quick change, print and I am out of here.” He ran back and started looking for the file. He couldn’t find it. After much frustration and too much time wasted, he found it. Soon after, he was out the door. However Mr. Smith was now just too late. He ran to the station in hopes of making his train, only to watch it leave. He thought to himself “I had it done. I could have made it and I even prayed about it. God let me down.” However his troubles were just beginning.

Ten minutes later the next train pulled into the station. Peter took his seat and began to hope again. Perhaps there was still a chance. But the train just sat there. Why wasn’t it moving? He got up and looked around. His frustration started to grow again. Then over the loud speaker he heard it. The train was being held due to trouble on the track. A few minutes later it got worst. The announcement was devastating to Peter. “We apologize to our passengers, however due to unforeseen events the train line has been temporarily put out of service. If any of our passengers need assistance in finding alternative travel arrangements please see our front desk. Our Front desk will also provide you with a full refund for your expenses.”

Peter just about had enough. He stormed out of the train car and went straight to the front desk. He demanded an explanation. That’s when he got the horrific news. The previous train had suffered a derailment and was still blocking the tracks. Several passengers were fatally wounded and many others were in critical condition.

He had been angry with God for missing the train. Now the anger was replaced with sadness for those passengers that were killed and so many that were hurt. He of course realized that was supposed to be his train. What would have happened to him? Sometimes when you don’t get what you want it’s better.

There is nothing wrong with asking God for what you want. Jesus taught that we should persist in prayer for all our needs and wants. We should not lose faith even when much time passes by. Sometimes God’s answer is wait and we think it’s no. However, when God does say no, we should still be thankful.

He knows all things. What we think is best for our lives may actually be the worst. Pray with faith, never give up hope, and trust God regardless of what His answer is.

Can we trust God more than the train?

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding; Proverbs 3:5

There I was speeding through the Bronx on an elevated train way above the ground. Children were playing and having a great time. Mothers seemed relaxed and contented. The driver of the train was nowhere in sight. But I was happy as can be and without a care in the world. I figured I was 100% safe. No reason to be concerned with who might be driving the train, his or her physical condition or capabilities; I was not worried about the condition of the train or the old tracks. What could go wrong? I trusted the construction of a system whose parts in some cases dated back to the 1800’s and an anonymous driver. As a species we are actually more trusting than what we think. We trust our waiters, our cooks, our babysitters, and our doctors. However when it comes to God how often does our trust fail?

Why do we doubt God even if we have experienced his power first hand? The Israelites had experienced the power of God who liberated them from Egypt with a mighty hand. But when they came face to face with the giants in Canaan they could not believe that God would provide a victory. Sarah had experienced the protection and guidance of God but upon being told that she would have a child, also did not believe and only laughed. I have also doubted God and yet I have personally experienced God’s blessing and care. Why do we spend so much time doubting?

Perhaps part of the doubt comes from our own feelings of inadequacies. The Israelites felt small next to those Giants and Sarah was sure she was too old. Often in finding our faith we must come to grips with the reality that when we cannot continue the fight, our God can. That when the problem is too great He can solve it and when it is impossible for us it is still possible for Him. The giants were thoroughly defeated, and Sarah would rejoice to see her baby born.

Everyday God is acting in our lives in miraculous ways. Let us trust Him. He is more reliable than the NYC subway system and has been around a whole lot longer. He is not anonymous and hears you when you call. He arrives on time and will definitely take us where we need to go.