May 10, 2013

Growing without grumbling

A few years ago, as a grandmother in seminary, I had one of the younger students playfully ask me what I wanted to be when I grew up. I told him, “a sweet little old lady,” however, that goal is being modified. I’m back in seminary, but I’ve never left God’s school of learning…

Yesterday I wanted something sweet so had a piece of cake. After eating it, it sat like a rock in my stomach and I didn’t feel well for several hours. My sweet tooth has done this to me before, but I’m a slow learner. A small piece of dried fruit would have been a better choice. Today I will pitch the rest of that cake in the garbage.

Interesting that God should use that experience and this text to put my mind on the folly of wanting something that isn’t good for me, and for not being satisfied with what He does supply. This is not just about food.

He split the rocks in the wilderness, and gave them drink in abundance like the depths. He also brought streams out of the rock, and caused waters to run down like rivers. But they sinned even more against Him by rebelling against the Most High in the wilderness. And they tested God in their heart by asking for the food of their fancy. (Psalm 78:15–18)

The Israelites were taken from slavery and on a journey to the land God promised them. They should have been grateful for His care and provision, but they grumbled about everything. They complained they would die of thirst and He gave them unlimited water out of a rock. They complained about their food and He gave them more than they could eat. That made them sick and some even died.

I can relate to their grumbling and dissatisfaction. I can relate to their lack of gratitude over the blessings of God. I understand both their rebellion and their testing. In my selfish pickiness, I have wanted something else, not what He thought best, but what I thought better, as if I know better than God?

Faith says that God knows what He is doing. Faith believes that His providential care is designed for my greatest possible benefit and that all God orders for me is His best on the menu for my needs. It will not only feed and sustain me, but also result in the most good in my life. Faith sees His wisdom and is grateful, even if what He ordains for me at first does not seem to fit my idea of good.

This is fundamental. Only children (in life and in the family of God) stamp their feet and say, “I don’t want that. Give me…. instead.” Maturity recognizes that our Father God is not being cruel or thoughtless in His supply. He wants the best for His children.

My mother used to say of the weather, “We must need it or we wouldn’t be getting it.” Her wisdom about that which God ordains applies to all of life. God is able to use all things for good, as Romans 8:28 says, and that ‘good’ is His power to put items on my plate and then use them to shape me into the image of His Son. Instead of stamping my feet and testing Him in my heart, I should always be seeking how I can conform to His will. Instead of being content to be a “sweet little old lady,” God wants more than that. He wants me to be a reflection of Jesus Christ. I need to be grateful and more cooperative for He knows how to supply, carve and polish much better than I do.

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