Thursday, August 16, 2012

To Stay the Course, Mind your Diet!

In Exodus 15:19-21 we're told how, after the pursuing Egyptians were drowned in the Red Sea, the Isrealite women picked up their tambourines and danced in joyous praise to the Lord.
What a picture this is! You can see the women leaping and swirling in their colorful robes. You can hear the bright ringing of the instruments, and maybe even invision the shouts of joy they could not hold inside.

It's easy to praise Him when things are good isn't it? Nothing to worry about, troubles lifted and the road ahead seems bright and promising.
But how about when the storms come? When we don't get the Big Rescue we so hope for? When we're left to work our way through the pain, hurt, danger, day after day, with no easy way out. Do we praise Him then?
Remember those Isrealites. It wasn't long before they were falling into the trap of self-interest. They were tired of the food God provided each day (manna). They wanted meat, they wanted variety. And they felt they were owed that food.
They complained to Moses, demanding food, criticizing what was already suffient and provided. They wanted to leave behind the nutritious manna that came only from God for the flavors of the world. They wished to return to Egypt and slavery rather than continue to follow their Lord any longer.
How did God respond? He gave them what they wanted. So much that they sickened and died from it. (Numbers 11: 4-6, 18-20)

Isn't this similiar to our lives today? We love the mountain tops, the 'highs' we get from collective praise, from easy living, from lack of troubles. But when things get tough, we pull away and gravitate toward the world and it's 'food'. We forget the good and awesome provision of our Lord in the darkness of pain and grief.
We want the 'Big Rescue' the easy out. When we don't get it we complain and long for the 'days of Egypt', the comforts of the world. But we are called to praise Him ALL the time, not just in the bright rainbow days, but into the bleakness of trials and suffering.
He's with us in good days and in bad. How many times do we repeat Ps 23? "He leads me THROUGH the valley of the shadow of death". Not to it or into it only to leave us, but All. The. Way. Through. How amazing is our God! How great is His love for us!
We are not promised sunshine and roses all the time. Indeed, we're told by Jesus Himself that we will have trouble, pain, heartache. But we are also told that He is working a great work within us, and will see it completed to His satisfaction.
We must stay the course! We cannot be lured away from His Food for that of the world. When our Godly appetite turns to a secular on, we are in trouble! Food of the world, movies, books, clothing, lifestyles, none will truly fill us. It's bright and colorful, but on a diet of the world, we end up malnourished.
Only His Food can satisfy and sustain us. Only His Word can bring us to robust health and happiness. Just as we eat at regular times, so must we recharge ourselves with time with Him and His Word. We can't grab a bite here and there while running off to yet another bit of 'earthly junk food'.
We are told by Paul that this life is a race. You wouldn't train for a race intent on winning by stuffing yourself with candy, chips and sodas, right? So don't do that in your spiritual race either!
Come to His table and be filled, equipped to run the race to the end. When it it storming in your life, eat from his Word! And remember, even in the midst of the darkness, the valley of the shadow, He is there and He is in control. So pick up your tambourine and dance! God is so good!

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