Welcome to part 2 of our continuing “milk and honey” saga. Part 1 can be found here.
Have you put on any garments lately? There’s one in particular that covers our “buts” quite well and it directly correlates to our view.
Stay with me.
Our wives and children…
Wouldn’t it be better…to go back…?
Aaahhh, it’s a friendly, little visit with our friends, the Israelites of Numbers 14. Theirs is a doggie, grassy, chain link view, not the open expanse, cows-on-the-hillside view God offered.
Like wearing a bathing suit out on a snowy day, the garments they put on simply didn’t protect them. “But” didn’t suffice. In turn, their Promised Land view was shrunk to the magnitude of their own strength.
Kind of like my dog.
The flaming darts of the enemy had full access to their heart in their limited view.
A lowering or drop of the shield of faith exposed their heart to enemy fire. And it changed their future. It can do the same to us.
For the Israelites, it looked like this:
But the people who live there are powerful…the cities are fortified and very large. We even saw descendants of Anak there.
And they spread…a bad report.
We seemed like grasshoppers in our own eyes…
In our lives, the words mirror the Israelites something like this:
God, I can’t do this. I’m not even certain I want to do this.
What about our children? What if they can’t do it, Lord? I’m concerned for them.
Lord, our kids are struggling…with friends, with school, with missing the old place. Why did you bring us here?!
The kids aren’t connecting with a youth group, Lord. Why?
We should have just stayed back “there”.
The fiery darts of fear cause heart conditions called grumbling, complaining, and disbelief.
God called their “concern” contempt, a refusal to believe in the NIV (’84).
Contempt is a strong word. In the King James version provoke is used. Strong’s Concordance defines provoke with word such as scorn, abhor, and despise.
Those are strong words.
Yet, our conversation, like the Israelites’, is full of them when faith is missing.
And did you notice? Neatly tied up in the Israelites’ battle with faith, smack in the center of their concern, was their children.
“…Our wives and children will be taken as plunder.
Wouldn’t it be better for us to go back to Egypt?”
Numbers 14:3 NIV ’84
Has our concern for our children become bigger than faith in God’s view?
Moves from community to community, life in school, during their growth into adulthood, or in the mix of their friend group are all a part of this.
Throwing faith aside in the name of concern for our children is a dangerous practice. Its small view is harmful for them and us.
I found myself staring at a small-time view after our move to Oklahoma. Grumbling set in. Complaining came, too. They were easy garments to wear due to my concern over the children’s difficult adjustment.
Life got heavy the first year. The view was little at best. Then the Holy Spirit reminded me of his counsel from years ago.
Put on the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness. (from IS 61:3)
Unlike a bathing suit on a cold winter’s day, this garment covers with an adequacy that is beyond our view. Where there is praise in conversation, grumbling, mumbling, and complaining are crowded out. And when there’s not room for the “buts”, faith easily remains, even grows.
It wasn’t natural at first, offering praise for a place I didn’t necessarily want to be, but it was necessary if I was to leave contempt and a refusal to believe behind.
God, thank you for Oklahoma. Your work here is good.
It led to additional praise, and my view morphed into sky-meeting-the-horizon eternal view. What was cloaked in heaviness began to find its freedom in remembering that God was at the helm of these plans. It wasn’t about my comfort or fear for the children, it was about eternity.
Praise you for leading us here in your wisdom.
Lord, that bird (sky, pasture, view…) is good. (Something I happen to be looking at at the time.) You made it, and it is praiseworthy.
Thank you for the people here, Lord. Your craftsmanship in them is something to behold.
Lord, I praise you for placing our children in the center of your path. Thank you for bringing us here.
The “can’t do” view began to change from grumbling and mumbling among the tall prairie grasses and chain link fence to a bigger, “God can” view with eternity on the horizon.
Praise does that.
For that milk and honey view, to whisk away the “buts” of view change, mind if I ask you what garment you’ve put on today? It makes all the difference in the world.
Action step: Find 1 praise for God in the midst of your muddied situation. Offer it daily. After a week, add another. Continue until you notice a change in view.