STUCK

Ye have compassed this mountain long enough: turn you northward.  Deuteronomy 2:3  (KJV)

 

This journey God has called us to is a walk of faith.  Sometimes we forget that.  We want a map, signs and wonders, confirmations, voices from the blue, and blessings every step we take.  We want the fleece to be dry at the snap of our fingers and otherwise wet to reassure  us.  What does that have to do with faith?

By faith Abraham, when called…obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going.  That’s faith.  Abraham had no guide and no oversight committee, but he trusted God.  He was from a pagan society, but he trusted God.  And God didn’t fail him.  Every promise that was made to Abraham was fulfilled, and through him came our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.  Abraham listened and kept moving.

Moses, another faithful man, led the faithless Israelites out of bondage in Egypt and stopped on the way to get God’s instructions at Mt.Sinai.  He had barely trekked up the mountain when the Israelites asked Aaron to construct a god for them, a tangible symbol they could see and touch.  And, of course, there were many other times of disobedience and unbelief until finally God let them wander through years of sand and bare bones existence.  Their lack of trust in the God who had made a way through the Sea and through the chartless desert relegated them to a lifetime of unfulfilled wandering.

Finally, God said they had gone round and round long enough.  It was time to move on. Time to trust God to do what he’d promised, time to listen to him, time to obey.  Faith is “confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see” (Heb. 11:1).  It is not seeing the end from the beginning—only God does that.  It is not seeing the fulfillment of our prayer at the moment we say amen.  Only God does that.  It is not understanding God’s methods, his delays, or his silences.  And it is definitely not reliance in our own abilities.  It is simply trusting God to do what he promised and to always make everything work together for good (Rom. 8:28).

So, isn’t it time to get up and move (Deut. 1:8)?   We’ve spent too long going round and round the mountain.  Onward.  God is able.

 

Father, we really expect magic from you at each point of distress.  Pull that rabbit out of the hat or part the waters at our command.  Forgive us.  Faith is hard, but it’s also your gift.  Help us to grow up and to move out in faith.  That pleases and blesses you.  Thank you.  In Jesus’ name.  AMEN.

IF ONLY

 

And out of the ground made the Lord God to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight, and good for food; the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of knowledge of good and evil.  Genesis 2:9

 

Do you ever wonder what you would have done if you’d been Adam, enjoying the beautiful Garden, dominating animals and creation, having a soul-mate for a companion, and living with just one rule?  All of this in the context of daily fellowship with his God and Creator…

Just one rule.  Eat all the fruit from the trees that are pleasant to the sight and good for food, but don’t eat from the tree of knowledge of good and evil.  Life was good in Eden; there was total freedom; and there was no sin.  It would be the only time in human history where we lived in a perfect environment.  With just one rule.

And then the snake appeared.  It deceived Eve, but Adam succumbed, apparently, with no resistance at all.  Eve took a bite of the forbidden fruit, handed it to Adam, and he ate.  Immediately, they felt the need to hide – their bodies and themselves.  God appeared and asked one of the most acute questions of all time, “Where are you?”  God knew where they were; it was Adam and Eve who were lost.

You know the rest of the story:  the expulsion, the consequences, the lost fellowship.  IF ONLY Adam and Eve had been obedient, as if God were surprised at their rebellion.  But God had a plan all along (Gen. 3:15) to redeem mankind and all creation and to restore that which was lost in the Fall.

Fast forward to Revelation 22:1, 2:  Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb down the middle of the great street of the city. On each side of the river stood the tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations.

At the beginning of time we saw sinless perfection in the Garden of Eden.  Along with the forbidden fruit was the Tree of Life that could have sustained Man forever.  IF ONLY Adam and Eve hadn’t forfeited that relationship with God through their sin…  But God had a plan that culminates in sinless perfection.  And in the eternal Garden, once again, the Tree of Life is offered.

Father, your omniscience is breathtaking.  Your forethought is staggering to the human mind.  Thank you for your redemptive power and your grace that reaches each of us wherever we are.  Thank you that, because of Jesus, we don’t have to live with IF ONLY.  AMEN.