I won’t drive them out before you in a single year so the land won’t be abandoned and the wild animals won’t multiply around you. I’ll drive them out before you little by little, until your numbers grow and you eventually possess the land. Exodus 23:29-30 (CEB)
Last month, I decided to re-read the Exodus story. I’ve been feeling for awhile like I’m in a desert place, and I thought God would reveal the way out if I went back to the original source material.
God has revealed a lot to me through Exodus, but it’s not the great epiphanous understanding I was seeking. God did what God always does in my life…he gave me clarity and fortitude to continue down the desert road.
I’ve shared before my desire have God communicate with me through a blazing neon sign. I want that bright fluorescent blinking arrow ahead of me every step of the way. But, that’s not how God works in my life. And that’s a good thing, really, because if God made the way clear and easy, I wouldn’t grow in him. I wouldn’t grow at all.
You see, this is the point of the desert journey–to become one with God–to become the person God created us to be–to become the servant God wants us to be.
God fashioned a people in the desert. God spoke to the prophets in the desert. God revealed himself to John the Baptist in the desert. God prepared Jesus for ministry in the desert. God reclaimed Saul in the desert. (Okay, Damascus wasn’t in the desert. However, it probably felt like a desert experience to Paul.)
Exodus Takeaway #1: Our desert experiences are carefully orchestrated by God to help us grow into the person he has called us to be.
This growth can be both practical and spiritual. Case in point: the Israelites had no understanding of God. They had been on their own for 400 years in Egypt. Spiritually, they were infants. The desert journey allowed them an opportunity to come to know, trust and rely on God.
But, as Exodus 23:29-30 shows us, the Israelites were not physically ready to possess the land God had called them to. They were too small in number. And, God knew that if he gave the land over to them too soon, they wouldn’t be able to care for and use it.
Exodus Takeaway #2: God has a plan, and has arranged even the most minute details.
Details matter. Because we can’t always see the big picture, it’s easy to get impatient with God. We forget that he’s thinking way beyond the farthest reaches of our understanding and imagination. We want results now, but God knows all of the steps it takes to achieve those results. And, he’s not willing to let us miss a step in order to achieve those results faster.
So, sometimes we wait…and wait…and wait. But the waiting’s not inactive. Rather, God is teaching and leading and strengthening through the entire waiting process.
Exodus Takeaway #3: We’re really good at mucking up God’s plan.
As human beings, we’re not good at waiting. It probably goes back to some innate survival instinct–the need to be the first one to the meat. Regardless, our impatience often acts to sever our trust in God. We, like the Israelites, begin grumbling about our circumstances. We doubt God’s good intentions. And then, we rebel. Like Moses and the rock, we strike where we shouldn’t and lose the blessings God has been working through infinity to give us. We miss out on opportunities to serve, to minister, to love, to grow, to understand, to experience God because we just can’t wait anymore.
Our impatience denies us the opportunity to participate with God as he works to build his kingdom “on earth as it is in heaven”.
I wish I could give you some sort of profound revelatory statement regarding God’s plans and purposes. I wish I could tell you which bush, shrub or flower patch God might speak to you from today. The truth is, I don’t know where God is leading you today. I don’t know if you’re resting beside still waters, or wandering through a hot, dry desert. I don’t know what God’s big plans are for you (or me, really). But I do know this:
God loves you and cares about you. God wants what is best for you and your family. God is actively working in your life to set things in place for generations to come. God longs to be in a relationship with you.
Today, I would encourage you to open your heart to God. Engage in an honest conversation with him. Tell him where you are, how you’re feeling, what you’re afraid of. Then, ask him where he wants you to be today. Ask him who he wants you to talk to, where he wants you to go, what work he has for you to do. Then, my friend–go to it. Place another brick on the building of God’s kingdom.
Blessings and Peace,