Tuesday, June 1, 2010

The Promised Land (a note to graduates)

Remember the famous stories of Moses freeing the Israelite slaves from Egypt and bringing them across the Red Sea into the desert where they met with God? I’ve been thinking recently how their journey from slavery into the promised land often mirrors our own personal walk with Christ from slavery to sin into the true freedom of the Promised Land (i.e. living in the center of His will, filled with peace and joy, walking by faith, in the Spirit and conquering sin and the flesh).

Are you at a crossroads in your life? Maybe it’s a fork in the road and big life changing decisions you have to make about marriage, jobs, children, moving, etc. Maybe you have just graduated and are starting a new life on your own. As you look at the path in front of you, where does it lead? How can you be sure it will lead you to your promised land, the place of your dreams, the spiritual place of contentment?

Here’s a few things I see that the Israelites did wrong that led them to a 40 year wandering time before they finally received God’s gift of peace to them.

First, they didn’t dream big enough. They saw the big clusters of fruit in the land and they thought it looked beautiful and wonderful, but they couldn’t imagine how they would defeat those “giants” in the land. They didn’t believe their God was big enough to tackle seemingly insurmountable odds. I wonder how many of us limit God’s work in our lives by this type of thinking. When they started to dream big and put their trust in a BIG God, that’s when walls started to fall down and rivers began to part before their very eyes.

Second, they didn’t stay true to their values. They let emotions rule them as they succumbed to whining, complaining, impatience and finally relying on other gods when the One True God wasn’t working the way they wanted Him to. So often, I rely on my emotions instead of the TRUTH (the Way and the Life), and instead of letting God’s Word be my solid foundation. When we let emotions guide our decisions, we don’t always choose according to values, but what “feels good” and whatever is easiest. Ultimately, that path leads to death, while the path of obedience and hard choices leads to life. Moses made sure they knew that they had a choice to make and that their decisions would have lasting consequences. What feels good today may have the potential to change your life forever. So, choose wisely.

Third, they were selfish. They wanted to have all the comforts of life and they wanted it NOW! They were only thinking about the moment and about their own pleasure. As a result, they didn’t get along with each other and they didn’t see how they might play a part in a bigger plan. When we get our eyes off ourselves and look out into the world with a vision to serve, we can team up with God and work with Him fulfilling His purposes. When our lives are only about what is best for us individually, we miss the opportunity to be a part of something that really matters, something that has eternal value. Those selfish Israelites died in the desert, never seeing what God had planned for them or how He would use the nation of Israel to bless the world.

I want to be someone who gets involved with what really matters and to do that, I need to get my eyes off of myself and I need to trust in a BIG God who can fulfill BIG dreams. And ultimately, I need to make everyday choices that honor Him and put Him at the center of my life where He can work miracles. I’m choosing to take the path that leads to a Promised Future. How about you?

Cartoon used with permission: (Copyright Gospel Communications International, Inc - www.reverendfun.com)

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