(This post was originally published here on March 8, 2016. We just finished up a three week sermon series where we went through through this post. If you like this, we recently put together a book containing 21 of our blog posts. It’s a 21 day devotional that you can purchase on Amazon, called What Can Be? 21 Days of Encouragement.)
Here is an example of how getting in God’s way turned an 11 day trip into a 40 year journey.
In Deuteronomy 1, the New Living Translation says:
2 Normally it takes only eleven days to travel from Mount Sinai to Kadesh-barnea, going by way of Mount Seir. 3 But forty years after the Israelites left Egypt, on the first day of the eleventh month, Moses addressed the people of Israel, telling them everything the Lord had commanded him to say.
God promises to take His people to a great land. He wants them to be there. And yet, instead of taking 11 days to get there. It takes them 40 years.
Here are three ways they get in God’s way. They tend to show up in our lives too.
Be ungrateful. Too often we miss God working in our lives because we focus too much on what we do not have. We focus on what we think we need.
God’s people were slaves in Egypt. God responds to them because He hears their cries. He sees what they are going through.
7 Then the Lord told him, “I have certainly seen the oppression of my people in Egypt. I have heard their cries of distress because of their harsh slave drivers. Yes, I am aware of their suffering. 8 So I have come down to rescue them from the power of the Egyptians and lead them out of Egypt into their own fertile and spacious land. It is a land flowing with milk and honey— (Exodus 3 NLT)
God frees His people from slavery. Yes. So the people are grateful. No.
3 “If only the Lord had killed us back in Egypt,” they moaned. “There we sat around pots filled with meat and ate all the bread we wanted. But now you have brought us into this wilderness to starve us all to death.”(Exodus 16 NLT)
They quickly forgot. We quickly forget too.
Take time, even make a list, of the things that you are thankful for each day. Train your brain to give thanks to God.
Be impatient. Now this sounds a little contradictory. We are talking about speeding up God’s work. We want God to be at work. Well, sometimes we need to wait for God. Sometimes, we try to make God show up, outside of His timing. Exodus 32 (NLT) has this infamous account:
When the people saw how long it was taking Moses to come back down the mountain, they gathered around Aaron. “Come on,” they said, “make us some gods who can lead us. We don’t know what happened to this fellow Moses, who brought us here from the land of Egypt.”2 So Aaron said, “Take the gold rings from the ears of your wives and sons and daughters, and bring them to me.”3 All the people took the gold rings from their ears and brought them to Aaron. 4 Then Aaron took the gold, melted it down, and molded it into the shape of a calf. When the people saw it, they exclaimed, “O Israel, these are the gods who brought you out of the land of Egypt!”
The people became impatient. Things were not happening as fast as they wanted things to happen. Sometimes the best thing you can do, is wait. Remember “God is Still Working.”
Be frightful. To cheat a little, we talked about this last week, “Trusting God’s Promises – He Will See You Through”. Before the 40 year journey began, they were very close. God leads them to this great land. All they had to do was trust that God would keep His promise.
If the people would have listened to Caleb and trusted God, they would have avoided the 40 year journey.
30 But Caleb tried to quiet the people as they stood before Moses. “Let’s go at once to take the land,” he said. “We can certainly conquer it!” (Numbers 13 NLT)
Instead, they focused on all of the reasons they could not go and do what God was calling them to do. They even worked against God.
31 But the other men who had explored the land with him disagreed. “We can’t go up against them! They are stronger than we are!” 32 So they spread this bad report about the land among the Israelites: “The land we traveled through and explored will devour anyone who goes to live there. All the people we saw were huge. 33 We even saw giants there, the descendants of Anak. Next to them we felt like grasshoppers, and that’s what they thought, too!” (Numbers 13 NLT)
What is holding you back from following God today? Is it fear? Be honest. What are you afraid of? Are you afraid of change? Are you afraid you are not equipped to do what God is calling you to do? Find someone that you know that has taken similar steps and go talk to them.
So yeah, let us try not to live this way.