Monday, November 22, 2010

Connecting Life with Faith: God and our expectations

Great Sand Dunes National Park photos

When I think of Bibilical examples of trials and difficulties, the first one that jumps into my mind is the exodus from Egypt depicted in the Old Testament. Certainly this account has been pounded from the pulpit for years, centuries, even millennia. There are literally hundreds of lessons to be learned through reading this account, but what is so fascinating to me is that despite the many miracles that occurred along the way, the Israelites remained stubborn and even rebellious towards God.

I first ask myself, "How would I react to such clear, amazing displays of God`s might, mercy, and provision?" "How am I different from those Israelites in the accounts given?" "What historical and cultural differences are there?

Good questions to ponder, but I think the universal place where we can relate with these struggling rag-tag refugees is "expectations."

Witnessing what they saw, they could clearly see that God had a reason for doing such great things in their midst. We, like them, can so easily get caught up in miracles and amazing events and become deceived. We can begin to expect certain things of God. Asking questions such as,

"Didn`t he make us for a reason?
Don`t we have a purpose to our existence?
Didn`t he promise us the land of milk and honey?" (the SWEET life)
Can anybody relate to this pattern of thinking?

These are valid questions to ask of God. But rather than be bitter and complain over our broken dreams and half-baked visions, we should be digging deep into our situations and ask God for His wisdom and continual help.

Refer to Exodus 15 & 16 as I continue
http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Exodus%2015&version=NIV

The major problem with the Israelites is that when they began to complain based upon their expectations of God, they grumbled to man (Moses and Aaron).  Yet God was patient and assembles them together. "Then Moses told Aaron, “Say to the entire Israelite community, ‘Come before the LORD, for he has heard your grumbling.’ Exodus 16:9.  What came next was an outpouring of the presence of God and miracle after miracle of provision for the Israelites.  However, throughout the rest of the book we see the pattern of behaviour of the Israelites get worse and soon we find them more "demanding" of God rather than "revering."

So let`s go back to the 21st century, we see miracles happen all the time in a myriad of ways.  There are seasons of miracles in our lives when we see everything come together perfectly orchestrated showing us that no doubt God was behind it all.  We can get so used to miracles, sometimes we forget what God has shown us in His Word.  Much like modern day convenience, without it, we start to become frustrated and even begin to grumble aloud, like you know who.  And in the end, we often find ourselves questioning the entire purpose of our own personal EXODUS.

And you know what...I think it`s okay...in a way.  We need to bring our grumbling hearts before God.  They won`t get better on their own, without Him.  We just need to be careful not to default to our leaders as a stand in for our relationship with God, almost like a lawyer for our spirituality.   Man`s answers can never satisfy us completely, but the Word of God directly spoken to us satisfies our downcast hearts, our hungry minds, and our broken bodies.

I encourage you click the Bible search link on the right, the look up the word satisfy and see the verse that show up.  Jesus said that those, "who seek, will find."  I think the real journey of life starts with God choosing us and then thereafter consists of continual refining and testing of our quality. 

He saves us from certain peril, only to deliver us into "slings and arrows of outrageous fortune," to borrow a phrase. Think of all the troubles the Israelites faced in the desert:  blistering heat, dehydration, starvation, battles, plagues, and the like.  It is easy to chastize them, but think how many times you have gone days without food or water in a desert.  Not many of us can claim a right to complain here.  Those who went through the Exodus experience, though their testing was severe, it stands as a testament to remind us.

We need God to survive through our trials and we must trust Him even as we face almost certain death.  Those words aren`t easy to swallow, and they require us to look realistically and closely at our relationship with God and our own expectations.

Abba, God in heaven, Giver of life, God by my side, and God who delivers.  So many of us are in desperate need and feel abandoned in our trials.  May we hear Your call today.  May we receive our needs and have peace in knowing You are with us.  May You help us have the right expectations of You, taking nothing foregranted, pleasing You with our faith.  I ask these things for myself and my brethren in every part of the world, for every person who would call on Your name, that they would be rescued in the midst of their struggles while there still is time.  That they might have a place with You in Your house forever. Amen.
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