Your Pleasant Present
Have you ever prayed for something one minute- something like a new job, a certain amount of money, a breakthrough of some kind? Only to later resent the very answer to prayer you once so fervently sought?
Well, at least we know we're in good company. People documented throughout God's word seemed to have had that kind of habit too. In the two instances I'd like to look at today, I want to unpack the root of this longing for 'anything but this'. A root, which, I believe we can wrongly nourish, nurture and feed, rather than leaving it to wither as we cease to wonder ‘what if?’
Back in the Old Testament, in the book of Exodus, chapter 15:22-16:3, we read of the Israelites grumbling and complaining against Moses.
“And the whole congregation of the people of Israel grumbled against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness, and the people of Israel said to them, "Would that we had died by the hand of the Lord in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the meat pots and ate bread to the full, for you have brought us out into this wilderness to kill this whole assembly with hunger.” (Exodus 16:2-3)
This was a people who had literally seen God's hand at work, not only that- they'd praised Him for it! (See the start of Exodus 15.) Yet their temporary (three day) dissatisfaction of the flesh meant that this people were moved from praise to self-pity. This was a feeling so strong that it led them to look on their former days in slavery and bondage as days more satisfying than their present.
Can you relate? Have you ever been in a place which, at one moment, you were praising God for, and the next, have found yourself thinking 'maybe slavery wasn't so bad'? Don't water that seed of doubt.
One of the most famous stories of the Bible is found in Luke 15. The story of the prodigal (or lost) son is one which many are familiar with. The lost son's desire for wealth and wild living was never planted there by God. A fleeting glimpse at the metaphorical green grass on the other side of the fence was all it took for him to decide that the safety, protection and warmth of his father’s house was, in fact a prison from which he needed to escape.
The enemy has a field day with these kinds of thoughts. It goes back to the garden, doesn't it? Adam and Eve had such freedom in Eden, yet the one piece of fruit God forbade them to eat from becomes a stumbling block and they start listening to things like, 'did God really say...'
So, back to our lost son...
“But when he came to himself, he said, 'How many of my father's hired servants have more than enough bread, but I perish here with hunger! I will arise and go to my father, and I will say to him, "Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you.”
When 'he came to himself', he was reminded that the former days weren’t actually the confinement and restriction he once thought, but that it was actually God's provision which he'd chosen to doubt for a while.
The bottom line is that we can so often forget what God has done in us and for us. Perhaps we're like the Israelites longing for the very days we prayed we'd be delivered from, or like the prodigal son coming back to our father with our tail between our legs realising that true freedom is in Him.There is grace for all of these situations and many more besides. The key though, is to abide and trust. Abide in the everlasting arms of Father God for He is our absolute constant, immovable and steadfast! Even when things feel and look otherwise, He is still at work to save you, even from the things you think you want!
“As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love.”(John 15:9)