September 01, 2010

Bittersweet (place of in-between, pt 2)

Moses had led the Israelites out of Egypt and they were journeying to the Promised Land. The desert they were traveling through was the "in-between" place. What happens there and why? Trials, testing and trust.

Bittersweet

The sound of tinkling tambourines were now a faded memory as the scorching sun beat down upon them as they wandered across the desert sands. Mere days ago their tongues were raised in praise to God who had miraculously opened a path for them across the sea. Now these tongues were swollen from thirst and could no longer sing the song of victory.

From the depths of the sea to the wilderness of Shur they had been led. Three days they had walked with no water in sight. Their cattle were perishing and hope was dying. With lips parched and dry they muttered their discontent.

Ahead they saw the waters of Marah and hearts leaped with expectation. They could almost taste the coolness of the water that was just within their reach. Scalded feet quickened their pace as they raced to the water’s edge.

One taste to quench their thirst was all they asked. One taste of the stagnant pool and hope was dashed. The waters were as bitter as gall upon their tongue. Sepia tints of desert sand blurred their hope and dreams were dashed.

How quickly they had forgotten the One who held back the mighty ocean and dried a path through the sea bed so they could walk in freedom. God had brought them to this lonely place of sad regret. These people followed Him but they did not trust Him.

All they could think about was the thirst within them; one taste and their thirst would be quenched. When they should have remembered God’s goodness and providence they focused only on the present trouble. God had brought them here to make Himself known.

This was to be a testing ground of their faith. It was there in that bitter place that “the Lord made a decree and a law for them, there he tested them.” Exodus 25:25 (NIV)


Some of God's purpose for those in-between places:
  • Testing of our faith by developing trust.
  • A place of humbling as we realize our own weakness.
  • The Israelites were still beguiled by what they had in Egypt.  They forgot the years of slavery and bondage.  Those desert places are where the entanglements of sin begin to lose their grip as we begin to encounter the duplicity of our own heart.
  • To see our lives in the light of eternity and that is a Christian's real hope.  God is able but sometimes the deliverance, the change, the answer does not come in the way we so desperately want.  It is in heaven that every tear and heartache will be wiped away.
  • Those in-between times erode our sense of entitlement until we have a heart of gratitude.
  • God will also use the place of in-between to prepare us for places of greater ministry.

Sometimes the trials and battles we face in the place of in-between may:
  1. be orchestrated by God
  2. come because of our own disobedience
  3. be because of some-one else's actions
Yet, regardless of how and why they come, we are responsible to make the decision to obey God or not.

You may want to read:

The Place of In-between, part 1
When God Is Silent

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