Thursday, April 10, 2008

A Murmuring Israelite in the Wilderness!

Then all the congregation lifted up their voices and cried, and the people wept that night. And all the children of Israel murmured against Moses and Aaron, and the whole congregation said to them, "If only we had died in the land of Egypt! Or if only we had died in this wilderness! Why has the LORD brought us to this land to fall by the sword, that our wives and children should become victims? Would it not be better for us to return to Egypt?" So they said to one another, "Let us select a leader and return to Egypt." --- Numbers 14:1-4

This is a confession time -- yes, in the daily times of prayer God has a way of jolting my memory about some things which prove to be most embarrassing and humiliating!

I find it all too easy to murmur and complain -- I would be more than qualified to be an Israelite wondering about in the wilderness -- in fact, to stand at the head of the line of chronic grumblers! As you see above, this is one incident of many in which the Israelites lapsed into the murmuring mode.

Time after time, in spite of the witness they had of God's mighty miracles of deliverance and provision, they would forget and regress into what would be almost a "ritual" of complaining.

So I, too often, can quickly lapse into a pattern of complaining:

  • the weather can be a frequent target -- too hot or too cold -- too much snow or ice -- and in connection with the winter, murmur about all that junk PennDOT throws on the road in winter time which results in the paint of my car getting chipped and the car often looks like it was in a hot tub of salt water -- you know, chalky white stuff all over the surface and the windows!
  • driving -- someone is going too slow in front of me -- someone is tailgating me from behind -- someone pulls right out in front of me -- why don't people know how to drive????
  • the deer and rabbits chew at some varieties of our flowers -- the buds on the rhododendrons are a target, so I do some grumbling about that as I try to take action to "head them off at the pass!"
  • and on politics -- I will not even go into detail on that one, although there are comments on both the blog and the web site which relate to this subject.
  • then there are those daily irritations, disruptions and the reality of what some describe as Murphy's Law -- lots of grist for one prone to complaining!

And so as I talk to the Lord on that morning walk, that's when He starts coming back at me about that grumbling pattern I get into -- He reminds me of others who have circumstances much worse to deal with than salt residue on a car in the winter time --

  • there are brothers and sisters who are suffering violent persecution and even being put to death for their faith in some places in this world -- the Voice of the Martyrs is most helpful in providing information on this growing problem.
  • there are brothers and sisters who are laboring under difficult circumstances to share the good news of the Lord Jesus Christ which I likely will never experience.
  • there are brothers and sisters experiencing severe health problems which I have never as yet experienced -- I can still see and hear -- I can still walk -- and I have been blessed with a good measure of health.
  • and God has provided Jean and me with a home that is mortgage free which sits on a 1.2 acre lot which He also provided shortly before retirement -- and no, it was not inherited!
  • we have children, grandchildren and great grandchildren -- a family which God has been pleased to bless in numerous ways.

It often comes down to a matter of disciplining the memory -- of intentionally remembering past blessings and benefits -- sometimes when walking in the rain or when the snowflakes are falling, I attempt to remind myself that each raindrop or snowflake represents a blessing which God has mercifully granted to me and my family in times past! The reciting of the first few verses of Psalm 103 is a good cure-all for one when in the complaining mode!

Heavenly Father -- forgive me for falling into the trap of murmuring and complaining over the most trivial and petty things -- forgive my indifference to the plight of my brothers and sisters in the faith who are suffering in ways I cannot even imagine as they seek to bear witness for your Son Jesus as Savior and Lord. And forgive me for forgetting there are others who are going through trials and tribulations which I have never experienced. And forgive my failures in keeping silent when I should have spoken a word -- for inaction when there is something I was capable of doing but didn't for the advancement of your eternal Kingdom. Grant me grace and the empowerment of your Spirit to proclaim your Word faithfully and to invest my remaining time, abilities and resources wisely in the fulfillment of your call upon my life. And whatever measure of time I have left in this world -- a few minutes, hours, days, weeks, months or years -- or if you should spare my life until Jesus returns, may all that I say and do be to your honor and glory through Jesus, my Savior and my Lord. Amen!

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