As I was reading my Bible yesterday, an ‘old’ story took on new meaning for me. First, read the story from the Bible below (after all it’s God’s words, not mine, that have the power to transform!):
“Then the people of Israel set out from Mount Hor, taking the road to the Red Sea, to go around the land of Edom. But the people grew impatient along the way, and they began to murmur against God and Moses. ‘Why have you brought us out of Egypt to die here in the wilderness?’ they complained. ‘There is nothing to eat here and nothing to drink. And we hate this wretched manna!‘
So the Lord sent poisonous snakes among them, and many were bitten and died. Then the people came to Moses and cried out, ‘We have sinned by speaking against the Lord and against you. Pray that the Lord will take away these snakes.’ So Moses prayed for the people.
Then the Lord told him, ‘Make a replica of a poisonous snake and attach it to the top of a pole. Those who are bitten will live if they simply look at it!’ So Moses made a snake out of bronze and attached it to the top of a pole. Whenever those who were bitten looked at the bronze snake, they recovered!” ~Numbers 21:4-9, emphasis mine
Have you ever grumbled when you were trying to lose weight? I know I’ve whined that I have “nothing to eat” when healthy options sound tasteless and boring and I’m experiencing a hardcore craving for something I know I shouldn’t indulge in. While it may not have been manna that I called wretched or said I hated, I may or may not have had some choice words over vegetables that God created for us to eat (and yes, there are plenty of great options out there and plenty of great ways to prepare them… I’ll be the first one to admit that I’m not a fantastic cook or extremely creative in the kitchen).
More than that, though, have you ever just felt grumpy over where God has you at in life? Are there days that you’re ready for the next adventure and feel like you’re stuck in the same old spot (or worse)? The Israelites grew impatient along the way, the Bible tells us. God had saved them from so much and provided for them, and yet they were feeling irritable. And I can relate! While I should be feeling grateful, there are days when I feel like ‘enough already.’
Well, it was God who decided ‘enough already,’ as you can see above.
Like the Israelites, when reminded of our frailty, we often come to a place where we recognize our sin and cry out for help. But, the best part of this story for me was how the Israelites were saved – they simply had to change where they were looking!
I felt like God was saying: take your eyes off yourself, remember what God has done, focus your attention on where God tells you to. When the Israelites looked at the bronze snake, they recovered. It wasn’t based on their hard-working effort, and it certainly wasn’t based on them deserving it. They confessed their sin, they prayed and asked for God’s help, and then if they obeyed these seemingly simple instructions to change their focus, GOD was the One who saved them.
Today, if you’re growing impatient along the way, if you feel like grumbling over what God has given you, then I invite you to change your focus. Remember what God has done for you, confess your sin, pray and ask God to change you, and then focus your attention where God tells you to look. And see how you will live like never before!
Dear Heavenly Father, we thank You first for being a holy God. I confess that I sometimes picture you in my mind like a loving grandfather who lets us get away with anything we want to do. But, Lord, in addition to being loving and compassionate, You are also just, jealous, holy, powerful and awe-inspiring. You can say “ENOUGH!” Please forgive the times that our attitudes and perspectives have not honored You. We recognize all that You have done for us. You saved us from the power of sin through the blood of Jesus. You have given us plenty to eat and drink and provided for all our needs. You have rescued us from the power of darkness and brought us into Your light. We are grateful! Please take away the consequences for our sin, oh Lord. Please help us focus on You and teach us where to look. How can we remember what You’ve done rather than having a pity party for ourselves? How can we take our eyes off ourselves and focus on loving You and the people You’ve asked us to serve? We humbly pray that You would make us healthy and thin, giving us holy temples to do Your will and Your work, not for our own glory but for Yours alone. We pray that You would help us each step of the way so that we would hear “well done, good and faithful servant” at the end of our time. We love You and give You all praise and honor. Be glorified through our thoughts, speech and actions today and forever. In Jesus’ Name we pray, AMEN!