Reflecting on my adventure –
As I near – The Promised Land – I can see it. I see the difference and I can see why its hard. I see why it’s counterintuitive. Don’t get it wrong.
First, let’s see what you think.
In the Books of Exodus and Numbers, we read about journeys. They are strikingly similar and hard to tear apart. In both books, the people of Israel are on the journey which ends in sin and then, destruction. In Exodus, its the golden calf and in Numbers, the story of the spies. In both, God threatens to destroy them and restart the journey with Moses. And in both, Moses pleads for Israel.
Now, the difference. According to Rabbi Sacks, in Exodus, the people are departing while in Numbers, they are arriving. They have left Egypt far behind. Unlike in Exodus, in Numbers, the people are not looking back or thinking of the danger they are fleeing from (Egyptians chasing them at the Red Sea, Amorites etc.). Instead, they are thinking of the destination they are traveling towards, The Promised Land they are about to enter.
One would have thought that as they approached the promised land after escaping many dangers, they would be more relaxed, happy, fruitful, and less demanding. On the contrary., they become more rebellious. Moses becomes more tired, telling God to end his misery (Numbers 11:6) and is now easily prone to anger and despair. He becomes less likely to listen to God, acting on his emotions instead of swiftly obeying the Lord’s command to “Speak to the rock,” INSTEAD OF striking it.
And reading through it now seems like God is calling me out on it (ouch).
Contrasting both stories reveal that –
There are two journeys – The Journey from and the Journey to. The journey to is much harder than the journey from
Often, knowing where you are traveling from is not helpful but still doesn’t hinder your progress. At least, during the emotional moments of the adventure with God, its something you hold onto. It becomes the benchmark for what you are going through. The reason for your anger at God.
It becomes our “In Egypt, we had cucumbers, meat and much to eat. Why did you bring us out here to starve” type of complaint. In the final stretch, the uncertainty of your journey into the destination becomes hard to ignore. The mere thought of it may leave you overwhelmed and unfocused.
In Israel’s case, they made mistakes, had “Too much fear and too little faith.” They focused on the Journey From instead of the Journey To. The forgot to remember the destination. This honest, simple, emotional, and momentary error single-handedly cost them their chance to enter the destination the walked 40 years for. That error costs them the intuition they needed to pass the final test to enter the blessing.
And that test was the ability –
To distinguish between an opportunity to be seized and a temptation to be resisted.
On the Journey From, there are often not a lot of opportunities to turn to. One has to depend solely on the Lord. But, in the final stretch, on the Journey To, far many options and opportunities appear.
In fact, the opportunities are so obvious, so clear, and line up so well that if you are still wondering about your Journey From and wishing your present reality felt a little like it, you may miss the subtleties that distinguish opportunity from temptation.
Times like this can be hard. But, I have been thinking. Perhaps the one thought that can help us catch those subtleties and discern the best choice is to ask –
Which option does NOT require any faith?
For without faith, it is impossible to please God… (Hebrew 11:6 – paraphase)
One Love, One Spirit