Recently, when we were asked what we saw happening in the Church, my husband responded with one word—Transition! Our nation, the Church and many of His people are experiencing what seems like a never ending season of transition! Many of us feel like we aren’t where we were (Egypt)—but we haven’t yet arrived in that place we feel we are to be (our Promise).
As Ivan and I look back, we realize we have been in transition for several years but did not fully grasp it until we moved back to Missouri from Illinois. After much prayer, in 2007, we moved to Illinois to establish and train up a prayer team for our Mississippi River projects. At that time we were offered beautiful offices and a place to live. Although we had our ministry there, with all of our stuff for 2 ½ years, we never really unpacked our boxes! It just never felt like home to us. Then the Lord moved us back to Missouri with a clear vision of where He was taking us, (First Nations Healing and Outreach Center). But because we aren’t there yet, we have only unpacked some of our stuff. We still feel like a lot of our stuff is in boxes!
This morning the Lord woke me and I heard the words, “Pilgrim!” Then “My people are like that—they have all their stuff in boxes that they keep hidden away in their hearts and they won’t unpack them and let me get attheir stuff!”
WOW! God is in the moving business! He takes us from where we were to where He wants us to be!
We need to be encouraged with the knowledge that God is ALWAYS after the heart of His people, and brings us into challenging circumstances so He can help us identify and unpack our stuff!
The Lord brought His people out of Egypt and into the desert to help them understand they had stuff packed away in their hearts. This was Stuff that they had accumulated during 400 years of bondage. As the story goes, besides bringing all of Egypt’s stuff (GOLD) with them when they left, they ALSO brought ALL of THEIR stuff. Their stuff included an ingrained victim and poverty mentality, idol worship, dependency on Pharaoh (the government), rebellion, fear, doubt, unbelief, criticalness, whining, complaining, selfishness, and gluttony for fleshly things! That’s a lot of stuff!!
The trip that should have taken 2 weeks by foot, took 40 years because of their lack of faith and stubborn resistance to God prompting them to identify and unpack their stuff. Instead of moving forward they backtracked, traveled in circles, and struggled with exhaustion. You would think that a people who were on a life or death road trip would have jettisoned their extra baggage—and quickly! But Israel didn’t. They didn’t see what God was trying to get at. Their hearts were so enslaved to the place of captivity of where they had been, that they weren’t prepared to cross over to their Promised Land. They had self hidden away in the boxes in their hearts. And because they missed God’s purposes an entire generation died in what was meant to be a transition experience.
It’s important for us to see the many things God was trying to impart to His people in the desert. The journey is what is important to God—not the end of the journey. We are lifelong Pilgrims on our journey to Heaven, our ultimate Promise—but here on earth we go thru transitions which we may interpret as our desert times. We can mistakenly see those times as miserable and punishing rather than significant growth experiences filled with lessons the Lord wants to teach us.
God wanted to take the slave mentality out of Israel and turn them into sons. He wants to remove whatever may hold us back from walking in son ship. God wanted to teach Israel to be overcomers and warriors. But they had to first learn to overcome their own personal giants, before they could overcome the giants in their promised land.
There are probably many more things that you may think of, but the following lessons are the things the Lord spoke to me that He wanted the Israelites to learn during their time in the desert.
Intimacy: This was meant to be a time of intimacy where Israel learned that Father God would feed them manna with His hand. ( Ex.16.15)
We often do not see or understand the blessings from God in the desert. He wants to teach us total dependence upon Him and no other!
Faithfulness: A cloud guided them and protected them from the scorching sun and the fire gave them light and protected them from predators at night. He never left them. (EX.13. 21)
He wants us to know His nature and character to teach us that He will never leave us nor forsake us!
Provision: He not only provided for their needs with manna, He turned the bitter waters sweet. (Ex.15.25) And, He gave them water from a rock in the desert. (Ex.17. 6)
He stretches our faith to teach us He still provides for His people!
Sanctity of the Priesthood: God gave them the Ten Commandments (Ex.20. 1-17, Dt. 5.6-21), and Aaron and his sons were ordained into the priesthood. (Ex.28.1. 28)
He taught Israel that the priesthood must be a holy thing before the Lord. (Ex.29. 1, 44, 45)
God dwelled among them AFTER His priests were consecrated!
The Sacredness of Worship: NO compromise! (Deut. 12.)
Know the difference between the holy and the profane. (Lev.10. 1)
We cannot bring what is in the world or what is profane into the Holy of Holies and think God will bless it! We need to unload our boxes of traditions, culture and religion!
Protection: The Lord taught Israel how to guard the gates to His presence. (Num. 2. 2-33)
The Tent of Meeting represented God’s presence in the heart of the camp, and God wanted them to guard that place. In the same way, there are many gates into our heart and we are to guard them well.
Importance of the generations: He raised up the next generation to reject a slave mentality. (Deut. 1. 26, 35-36)
We need to jettison our “old thinking” that we have kept in our boxes or we won’t cross over to our Promised Land!
Birthing:The desert time was where the birthing of a new thing took place. He intended for Israel to be birthed into true son ship. (Deut. 31:7)
He wants us to be released into the visions He has placed into our hearts!
Preparation for war: God was teaching them to overcome their personal giants so they would not fear the giants in the land. (Judges 3.1)
God wants his sons and daughters to know how to fight!
The desert time is where we not only learn about ourselves, but about the true nature and character of our God. He is faithful; He won’t fail us; and, He will continually provide.
We must be willing to allow Him to unpack our stuff from the boxes (fear, doubt, unbelief, anger, unforgiveness, etc) we’ve carried around in our hearts.
Remember, God invented the Moving Business!