Four hundred years of slavery. Four hundred years of working for someone else and being mistreated and abused.
To say the Israelites had a trust problem when they left Egypt might be the understatement of the century.
God worked some pretty hefty miracles to lift the Hebrew people from slavery, but even miraculous signs don’t automatically erase generations-worth of mistrust and fear. You don’t just toss people with a slave mentality into a new land and watch what happens… you teach them how to survive first. And, in this case, the first lesson of survival was trust.
Trust in the God who was greater than the men who mistreated them. Trust in the God who chose them for a particular purpose. Trust in the God who is just, and trustworthy, and good. Trust in the God who loves.
So God led them into the wilderness. A vast, empty wilderness surrounding a mountain where their leader had met the YHWH, the I AM, the God-Who-Is-Actively-Present. The slaves would learn to trust in the God who wanted relationship with them. They would learn like small babies do, which are weak and helpless and cry, and God would be the mother that feeds them. Manna. New every day. Complete dependence.
In your walk with God, you will enter a wilderness. And it is not because God has abandoned you. It is because He loves you with a fierce and glorious love.
I will allure her, and bring her into the wilderness, and speak tenderly to her.” (Hosea 2:14 esv)
God will lead you into a wilderness and there you will learn to trust Him, or you will abandon Him and return to slavery. There you will become weak and helpless and hungry. And you will learn to eat the food He offers, or you will starve. He will be your mother, your father, your strength, your all… or you will crumble.
And it is not in anger that He does this. It is out of great, great love. A love that refuses to leave you in slavery.
Years ago I was led into a wilderness. I didn’t think I needed one. I knew who God was, knew of His love. But I didn’t realize I still harbored a slave mentality. So this same God, the One-Who-Is-Actively-Present, led me into an empty wilderness called infertility. I thought He had abandoned me and to be honest, I wanted to go back to Egypt.
In Egypt there are great things you know. Well, maybe not great things, but there are familiar things. Things that seemed much better than the emptiness surrounding me. And maybe, if I was back there, I could have the babies my heart cried for.
It was a generations-old slave mentality that still held me captive. Because back in Egypt, I was always toiling; slaving away to gain the things I wanted. It was this idea that if I worked hard enough, fought bravely enough, maybe I would earn the approval of my masters and they would bestow on me some small gift.
And in the wilderness, that doesn’t work. In the wilderness there is no way to earn the things you want. You are humbled, empty, without strength.
And in the wilderness? You learn who is really trustworthy.
Because the slave-drivers? They may bestow a small gift on you today, but tomorrow they may beat you.
And God? He gives and gives and gives and gives.
As I walked through the wilderness in my life, I found that trusting God is a safe way to live. He will give me what I need to survive, every. single. day.
I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” (John 10:10 esv)
But how do we learn to trust Him?
We open our eyes.
We stop screaming at the heavens or pounding our fists on the ground and we look. For in the wilderness, God covers the ground with manna (bread, life) every morning.
The slave mentality is always looking in; working for the things we desire but can’t attain. And trust is looking out, believing that what we need is right here.
Infertility still stalks my life, but I am not a slave anymore. I don’t want to go back to Egypt. I want to rejoice in my freedom. Because God is greater than the enemy who tries to destroy me. God has chosen me for a particular purpose. God is just, and trustworthy, and good. And He loves me.
And I believe that God will give every single thing that I need to survive. End of story.
And friend? I believe the same is true for you.
Join me over the next two weeks as we look at Lessons From The Wilderness.