I have had one of those aha mornings like I haven’t in a long while and I am excited about this post.
Sherlene pointed out a story from the Old Testament to me this morning that totally fits into the line of thought from my previous post about how hard it is to leave the meetings and for some, hard to stay away for very long (see Blessed are those Who Mourn). She has given me permission to share her thoughts and expound on my own from there.
She reminded me of Exodus 16 when after being delivered from Egypt, the Children of Israel (COI) soon after their journey started, began looking back to where they had been. They had not anticipated the long journey through the wilderness. I don’t know what they were thinking but it seems like they thought it would just be a matter of days to get to where they were going. After all, they had never been outside of Egypt, so they had no idea how big the land was outside of what was known and familiar to them. The journey through the wilderness was taking longer than anyone expected. And they weren’t happy about it. As soon as they got to the desert, the entire community complained. (We need to remember that they did everything en mass in those days.)
They’d been journeying about a month and half and it was hard. It was long, hot and they were getting hungry. They began looking back and wishing they had never left. They kept focusing on what they had back “home”; the good food, the familiar settings and FORGOT about the fact that they were SLAVES there. That they were in bondage there. That they had NO freedom.
So, God gave them something new. Something totally different. It was manna. It kind of freaked them out because they weren’t used to anything new. Everything had been the same their whole lives. But, this something new was from God. It was bread. It was life sustaining. It was enough.
The wilderness was foreign and different but it was the path to the Promised Land. The Promised Land was not heaven but it was heaven on earth for them. It took a while to get there.
God did not let them return to Egypt because he couldn’t; he had made a promise to deliver them out of Egypt on a certain day and on a certain year and he had fulfilled that promise.
But because they complained and didn’t trust God with their journey, most of them never made it to the Promised Land. They never experienced the best of the best.
It is all just such a crystal clear picture to me of how I and others often react when we think about leaving meetings or especially when we have already left and have started feeling new feelings and experiencing things we had not anticipated. Go back and read this story for yourself and see if you can identify. I have said several times how I never anticipated the loneliness I would feel after leaving. However the freedom God showed me was making enduring the loneliness possible. God was giving me the first glimpses of True Grace that I’d never seen before. The truly Glorious Good News of the Gospel! The meeting fellowship doesn’t believe in the Gospel of Grace. So, going back to it would mean being surrounded in part, if not all, (depending on where you live) by people clinging to salvation by works rather than salvation by grace.
Going back to meetings after you’ve left for a season with an awareness of what true Grace is can be done, yes it can, but you will be swimming upstream. You will be going against the current. And that is hard and exhausting to maintain for very long. You will hold on for as long as you can for your own reasons and also with the hope that maybe, just maybe, others will want to swim against the current with you. Maybe you can start your own Swimming Against the Current Club. How cool would that be! A quiet revolution. Making a difference and a statement by golly.
Screeeeeech!!! Hold it!!
You know what will happen if you get too many followers. I’m not going to even put it into words!
One last thing to remember, and I love this because it is from God Almighty Himself and it is so easy to forget these two little verses spoken to the COI soon after they left Egypt.
Exodus 13:17-18 The KJV says, “God did not lead them by the way of the land of the Philistines, although that was near, for God said, ‘Lest perhaps the people change their minds when they see war, and return to Egypt. So God lead the people around by way of the wilderness of the Red Sea.”
The Voice translation puts it this way:
“God did not take them by the coastal road that runs through the land of the Philistines, even though that was the nearest and easiest route. Instead, God said, ‘For if they see battle with these contentious Philistines, they might regret their decision and then return to Egypt. So God chose a different, longer path that lead the community of His people through the desert toward the Red Sea.”
I write these words with so much passion and love; (not at all out of anger or frustration). It’s just so much of what I wrote in a previous post, “No one said leaving would be easy” We need to follow God wherever He may lead us as individuals. We can trust Him. No two journeys are going to be identical; just the desired destination is. In the Old Testament, they followed as a group and were lead as a group along the same path, but we don’t see Jesus doing that. He alone knows how best to get you to your desired haven. Maybe this is your time for great things! For a walk of faith as never before. Maybe even for a leap of faith! Or maybe just a few baby steps of faith. Our faith is supposed to keep growing. It will be made to grow into a huge tree like Jesus talked about.
Trust Him with your journey. Yes, it won’t always be easy or comfortable but there are great things ahead! There is so much ahead of you that you never knew even existed before while you were still in bondage! Are you willing to face the wilderness, knowing God will provide everything you need while in the wilderness? Can you follow until He leads you to true rest and your desired haven? God is faithful to deliver.
“Painting Pictures Of Egypt”
I don’t want to leave here
I don’t want to stay
It feels like pinching to me
And the places I long for the most
Are the places where I’ve been
They are calling out to me
Like a long lost friend
It’s not about losing faith
It’s not about trust
It’s all about comfortable
When you move so much
And the place I was wasn’t perfect
But I had found a way to live
And it wasn’t milk or honey
But then neither is this
I’ve been painting pictures of Egypt
Leaving out what it lacks
The future feels so hard
And I want to go back
But the places that used to fit me
Cannot hold the things I’ve learned
Those roads were closed off to me
While my back was turned
The past is so tangible
I know it by heart
Familiar things are never easy
I was dying for some freedom
But now I hesitate to go
I am caught between the Promise
And the things I know
If it comes to quick
I may not appreciate it
Is that the reason behind all this time in sand?
And if it comes to quick
I may not recognize it
Is that the reason behind all this time in sand?