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Tuesday Thoughts 3-21-17

I am a bit (or a lot) sentimental, something I have to commit to God regularly because sentimentality can pull me into a longing to recapture some past sense of security and comfort instead of following Jesus into the unknown.  But there are some things about which that emotion can be a helpful tool.  I like to think that my Bible reading this morning is pulling me into that positive use.  I’m nearly at the end of the Old Testament book called “Numbers”, the fourth book in the Bible and the next to the last one to which Moses contributed.  The family called Israel is camped along the banks of the Jordan River, just about ready to finally cross over and start inhabiting the land God had promised to give them as a home hundreds of years before.  The ups and downs between promise and procurement contained the full range of human experience many times over.  There was victory and defeat, obedience and rebellion, the visible presence of God among them and the banishment to wander in the desert for the 40 years before this moment because they didn’t trust Him to lead them over at their first opportunity.  Only one book of Moses is left to read, Deuteronomy, which is a summary of their journey out of Egypt and to this campsite.  Here on the river bank, we know that Moses will shortly climb a mountain to get a glimpse of the land he will not enter, and then he will die.  I get sentimental about the end of Moses’ leadership, an end of a powerful era, and the time of reflection that must have been happening to those preparing to cross the water and go into battle to claim their homeland.  I imagine fathers and sons, mothers and daughters remembering the stories told by their grandparents around cooking fires and while tending flocks,  stories containing names like Adam and Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and more.  Surely there were reflections on these past forty years.  All these about to enter their new home were children of the adults that left Egypt guided by a pillar of fire.  A whole generation had fallen dead over the course of those four decades of wandering.  At this moment there must have come the realization that though so much hardship had happened (along with a great amount of God’s glory), those desert years actually made them ready for battle, ready for a new land, ready for a whole batch of unknowns.  Even though it was God’s original plan for them to make this river-crossing two years after leaving Egypt rather than forty, even though it was the lack of faith of their fathers that caused these years of wandering and hardship, God had used it well.  This moment reminds me of another verse from another time in this same family’s history, another time God was leading after disobedience and consequences.  Here it is: “So I will restore to you the years that the swarming locust has eaten…My great army which I sent among you. You shall eat in plenty and be satisfied, and praise the name of the Lord your God, Who has dealt wondrously with you…”  Joel 2:25-26 (NKJV).   What a wonderful promise that even though I bring trouble upon myself and then have to walk through the consequences (desert-like sometimes), God Himself, the One I have not trusted, the one who is Lord over consequences, will restore what had the appearance of only loss.  The loving Creator will work even through my disobedience, to make me more prepared to follow!  Again we see that our failure is not final!  So, my personal nugget for today (well two actually).   First, do not shy away from the price of disobedience.  When you finally admit your role in not following God, whatever that is, accept the fallout.  The more you squirm and resist what naturally follows bad choices, the longer will your wandering be.  Second, look for the restoration that comes through Jesus.   He stretched out His arms on the cross before ever we could turn from our sin and turn to Him.  He will restore a better version of anything that was lost and draw us ever closer!

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