Every person on earth is on a spiritual journey. A non-Christian is on a journey of finding--or being found by--God, while a Christian is on a journey of following God.
If you ever find yourself complaining to God about your life and/or spiritual journey, these three things will be true:
- You have set wrong expectations on God and His plan for your life.
- Your complaining will result in suffering.
- God will provide a second chance for you.
No matter what journey you are on, you will have challenges, upsets, setbacks, and sideline experiences. Some of these will be the natural order of life on earth; others will be a part of God leading you the way He wants you to go.
God doesn't stop the drama for a Christian; he offers to lead the Christian through the drama by revealing spiritual freedom in the process.
1. Avoid impatience and be PURIFIED by the process.
And they journeyed from Mount Hor by the way of the Red Sea to compass the land of Edom, and the soul of the people was much discouraged because of the way. Numbers 21:4
The Israelites got discouraged along the way. "This is taking too long. I'm tired. Will this ever end? Isn't there a quicker route to the Promised Land?"
Can you describe the blessed life you are looking for?
What motivates you? What de-motivates you? The answer to these two questions will help you understand where you are in your walk with God.
You've got problems; financial, relational, career, or just plain life. Are you into the quick-fix approach to life? Do you want it now? Are you buying into the immediate gratification ideal that is set forth by our media-driven culture? The world offers faster-than-fast options to follow, but those options are cyclical and will go away the second a "better, faster" option pops up - just look at the car industry, or the cell phone industry (how many of us have "RAZR" phones?
God offers a permanent approach to life. His approach is never a fad or "latest" thing. God says, "I made you and I know how you will work best. But, I never get in a hurry and I will never ask you to hurry either." God's design is a life-long design. He wants to take you from a life of Spiritual Slavery (in this world) into a life of Spiritual Freedom (hand-in-hand with Him).
To live the way God made you requires patience. Does the idea of waiting (patience) motivate you or de-motivate you?
2. Avoid complaining and say THANK YOU.
And the people spoke against God and against Moses: "Why have ye brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? For there is no bread, neither is there any water; and our soul loatheth this light bread." Numbers 21:5
The Israelites - wanting the quick fix - grumbled, complained, whined and self-righteously faced-off with God and Moses.
Don't hate. Celebrate.
Problems. No matter how we got them, we have them in our live - and plenty of them. Most people spend their lives trying to "fix" the problems they have. Or, more accurately, they waste their lives trying to get out of the problems they've gotten themselves into.
It is a rare person who is truly thankful for the problems in their life.
Yet, God uses problems to teach us how to live better lives. He wants problems to be our companions-of-mercy along the way; reminding us how dependent upon Him we really are.
Problems also strengthen us. They allow us to get ready for the next challenge, hurdle or speed bump that comes at us; and there is always another problem coming at us.
Remember, new problems are just around the corner. They are with us till this life is over.
What are you going through, right now, that you couldn't have gone through a year ago, or even a month ago? God is ever-strengthening you against challenges.
When problems come, celebrate. God is preparing you for bigger and better challenges and that means He wants to make you into a bigger, better person. Be thankful.
3. Avoid PAYING sin's consequences and repent.
And the LORD sent fiery serpents among the people, and they bit the people; and many people of Israel died. Therefore the people came to Moses and said, "We have sinned, for we have spoken against the LORD and against thee. Pray unto the LORD, that He take away the serpents from us." And Moses prayed for the people. And the LORD said unto Moses, "Make thee a fiery serpent, and set it upon a pole. And it shall come to pass that every one who is bitten, when he looketh upon it, shall live." And Moses made a serpent of brass, and put it upon a pole; and it came to pass that if a serpent had bitten any man, when he beheld the serpent of brass he lived. Numbers 21:6-9
God, in all his love, gave the Israelites a way out of their sin.
Give up and look up.
We sin against God. God forgives us AND God offers us a way out of our sin. He doubly blesses us.
In a world where "first impressions" can be the only opportunities to validate ourselves in front of peers, business associates or superiors, God never looks at our first "falling-down" episode as our life-long character.
God will go to any length to ensure His children have every opportunity to obediently follow him and not out of command... even to the length of killing His only son.
God is our Creator, our Leader and our friend. It doesn't make sense, but it is the truth. He has created us for His purposes - better than any purpose we might think up for ourselves. The journey through this life is preparation for the next and it is a challenging, pit-fall-filled journey.
But, God will always be with us. He will always have His hand outstretched, patiently waiting for us to grasp it with ours.
How long is it taking you to realize His way is the best and only way to make it through this "Lions and Tigers and Bears- Oh my" journey?