I Got Nothin”

Twirling a pen in my hand I just sat there. I stared at the card in front of me, waiting for an idea, for something, anything, to say. A few words popped into my brain but they seemed trite and shallow. So I sat there, staring at the card waiting for the right words but I got nothin’.

Over the past couple of weeks I have had to sign way too many greeting cards. Generally I like choosing and signing cards but this most recent batch were all for the unhappy occasions of life: Get Well, Thinking of You, and the saddest, With Sympathy.

What is there to say when the news is bad/sad? When you know the person receiving the card is struggling and in pain, physically, emotionally or both? What do you say when the person is standing in front of you with tears in their eyes?

Other peoples pain can take us by surprise, leaving us at a loss for words, uncertain how to acknowledge their sorrow, how to support, not knowing what to say or do. My heart hurts for the other person and I have that sinking feeling of frustration; that any words I might say trivialize their pain. There are times when silence is best, a hug, a comforting touch might be all that is needed and wanted but there has to be some verbal or written response, some words of understanding, some acknowledgement…

In the midst of pain our hearts cry out for comfort, for an answer or reason, for hope that the pain serves some purpose and that life is not meaningless. I always pause; I don’t want to say or write anything stupid and I don’t want to make the situation worse. I want to be sincere and genuine; I can’t know exactly how the other person feels but I do know what it feels like to lose someone, to be afraid, to worry. I want my few words to be comforting, positive and hopeful.

The Bible has a lot to say about pain and suffering. Jesus is described as a man of sorrows; He knows what if feels like to be lonely, rejected, mocked and tortured. Many of the psalms are vivid descriptions of the authors’ fears, despair and pain. Many of those who wrote and are written about in the Bible experienced great loss and prolonged suffering.

Through all of the sorrow and challenge in the Bible runs a long and unbroken thread of hope; the hope of a better life, of an eternal home, of a promised Messiah, of blessing, of purpose. The hope spoken of and demonstrated in familiar Bible stories is not just a vague wish but also the absolute certainty that God has permitted every experience, good and bad. It is a sure hope for those who trust Him and believe in Jesus that God has a plan and His plan is for our good.

But, sometimes God’s Word is not welcomed or wanted and even openly opposed. It makes me profoundly sad that His words of comfort and strength cannot be shared and that is why it has been so difficult to sign the cards, to say the words. All the “acceptable” words, the “politically correct” words (whatever those are) have no real meaning or substance and everything the world offers is only temporary.

When I cannot share the hope of heaven, the love of God, His plan, His comfort, His peace, His presence, His eternal and greater purpose there truly is no meaningful hope I can offer, no words of lasting comfort.   Apart from God, from Jesus and His Word,

I got nothin’…

 

Whom have I in heaven but you and besides you I desire nothing on earth. My flesh and my heart may fail but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. Psalm 73:25, 26

 

 

 

 

 

 

When Your World Quakes…

Before…

Routine keeps me on time, on task, nothing forgotten.  Mental to-do list of who, what, where, when and how.  Small warning signs of trouble may be ignored but this time, God was speaking, preparing for the test and trial.  I knew something was coming, I did not know what.  Easy to praise the Lord when life is going according to my plan but much too easy to coast and think, “I got this…”

During…

The major interruption.  The unexpected, unplanned, unanticipated event; not on my schedule.  All routine out the window, calendar useless, reminders, lists, obligations, email alerts all ignored.

The cords of death encompassed me, and the torrents of ungodliness terrified me. The cords of Sheol surrounded me; the snares of death confronted me. Psalm 18:4, 5

Trying to breathe, to remain calm, to put two coherent thoughts together.  Who to call/text?  There is one, the One who is above all others.  In these moments, I can only fall at His feet.  Heart pounding, I open His Word…

“I love You, O Lord, my strength.” The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge; my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. I call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised, and I am saved from my enemies. … In my distress I called upon the Lord, and cried to my God for help; He heard my voice out of His temple,
and my cry for help before Him came into His ears.Psalm 18:1 – 3, 6

This enemy is bigger than any ever imagined and foundations are cracking, rendered powerless, without knowledge, adrift without a schedule or plan to follow.  Refusing to dwell on what might happen, what could happen, what is the worst that could happen; choosing to focus on the One Who gave His permission for this trial, this test.

Then the earth shook and quaked; and the foundations of the mountains were trembling and were shaken, … He bowed the heavens also, and came down with thick darkness under His feet. He rode upon a cherub and flew; and He sped upon the wings of the wind. Psalm 18:7, 9 – 10

God rushes in, He allows every earthquake to accomplish His purposes and He stands at the epicenter with His arms wide.  He gives strength to bear my burden, He sends Aarons and Hurs to keep my arms strong and heart lifted to Him.

He sent from on high, He took me; He drew me out of many waters.
He delivered me from my strong enemy, and from those who hated me, for they were too mighty for me. They confronted me in the day of my calamity, but the Lord was my stay. He brought me forth also into a broad place; He rescued me, because He delighted in me. Psalm 18:16 – 19

The quake was strong, intense and thankfully short.  There were aftershocks that occurred without warning; they were accompanied by shortness of breath, sleeplessness, loss of appetite and ability to focus, a constant sense of anxiety.  God, His character, His Word, His Truth needed to be repeated, often, and deeply planted to recognize and reject the lies, to slow the breathing, to quiet the mind.

As for God, His way is blameless; the word of the Lord is tried; He is a shield to all who take refuge in Him. For who is God, but the Lord?
And who is a rock, except our God, the God who girds me with strength and makes my way blameless? He makes my feet like hinds’ feet, and sets me upon my high places. He trains my hands for battle, so that my arms can bend a bow of bronze. You have also given me the shield of Your salvation, and Your right hand upholds me; and Your gentleness makes me great. You enlarge my steps under me, and my feet have not slipped. Psalm 18:30 – 36

After…

Back on schedule with minor, manageable, interruptions; they are welcome after all the rocking and rolling.  God chose to deliver and give what was requested, He was gracious and merciful to me.  Ultimately He gave the one thing He always and consistently gives, His gave according to His will and purpose.  Would I be praising the Lord as much if my request did not agree with His will?  Difficult to say, I like to think I would and I know I would trust Him to lead me through whatever He allows and I know there will always be another quake. Lord, help me continue to sing…

The Lord lives, and blessed be my rock; and exalted be the God of my salvation, … He delivers me from my enemies; surely You lift me above those who rise up against me..Therefore I will give thanks to You among the nations, O Lord, and I will sing praises to Your name. Psalm 46 – 49

Back At It!

One thing about life that I know for certain is that nothing is certain!  Life suddenly got crazy busy and I found that there was little time and no energy for writing or reading and commenting on others’ blogs but, happy to say, I’m back…

Who can speak and have it happen if the Lord has not decreed it?  Lamentations 3:37

One of the most challenging truths of the Christian life is knowing that nothing happens without God’s permission.  The good, the bad, the ugly, the bitter and the sweet – any and all of it, God allows in our lives.

You probably know the story of Job; he is the supreme example of a man whom God allowed to be tested and tried with every possible calamity.  A man upright and blameless, God permits Satan to test him.  First, much of Job’s livestock is stolen and the rest burned; the raiders kill all but one of the servants responsible for watching and caring for the herds of oxen, donkeys, sheep and camels.  Next, Job’s seven sons and three daughters die when a windstorm causes the collapse of the house where they were having dinner. Job is then afflicted with sores over his entire body and his wife, in her grief, tells Job to curse God and die – being dead has got to be better than being in this mess!

But he said to her, “You speak as one of the foolish women speaks. Shall we indeed accept good from God and not accept adversity?” In all this Job did not sin with his lips.  Job 2:10

And that is the key, we believe the lie and the liar who whispers that a God who is really good would never allow trouble, grief, struggles or pain into our lives.  The same liar that persuaded Eve to bite the fruit tries to convince us that a “little” sin is ok because God does not want us to be “unhappy”.

Now don’t miss this, over and over the Bible gives examples of people pleading with God to relieve their pain and suffering and God answers; much of Jesus’ ministry was devoted to healing.  Job honestly poured his heart out to God and asked Him more than once why he had even been born.  God knows it all, there is no point in holding anything back from Him so pray for your difficult circumstances to change and remember that God may want to change you.

I know God has allowed me to learn more about myself during trials than at any other times.  I have learned how dependent I am on Him, how weak I am, how much pride is hidden in my heart.  Adversity has shown me my strength, helped me understand His grace, and developed my faith in Him.  Pressing through adversity with acceptance brings Him glory.

Yep, the past few weeks have been busier than usual with a lot of things, many of them really great and memorable; all of them an opportunity to witness God’s goodness all the time.  Thanks God, for ALL of it!

Small but Powerful

Down here is sunny Florida we have bugs galore, big bugs, small bugs, bugs that fly, crawl, infest and terrify.  I know bugs have a purpose and I don’t mind them as long as they stay on their side of the wall – the outside!  Not too long ago I opened a drawer and spotted a cockroach.  I was helping a customer at the time and I was pretty proud of myself that I kept my cool, closed the drawer and moved further down the counter!  But no way was I going to open that drawer again so I nabbed the first male co-worker available and he tossed that monster outside and stomped him good – go team!!!

Ezra is one of the lesser known men of the Bible.  In the Old Testament, the Book of Ezra is between 2 Chronicles and Nehemiah.  The Book of Ezra is fairly short and easy to skip and Ezra is not even mentioned until chapter 7.

Know Who You Are

Ezra is a Levite, a direct descendant of Aaron, a scribe who was skilled in the Law of Moses.  Ezra knew WHO he was and WHOSE he was.  The King gave Ezra all he requested because the hand of the Lord HIS God was upon him (Ezra 7:6).  Ezra travels to Jerusalem because the good hand of the Lord HIS God was upon him (Ezra 7:9)

Set Your Goal

Why was Ezra for blessed?  Verse 10, Ezra had SET HIS HEART to Study, Practice and Teach the Law of the Lord – Ezra loved the Word of God and he had made up his mind to read, study, live and teach the Word.  Ezra knew the importance of knowing God through His Word.

Lead by Example

Ezra knows God is giving him the strength he will need to make this 5 month journey to Jerusalem along with the priests, men, women, children, goods and supplies he is bringing to Jerusalem.  He stops near a river where he gathers ALL THE PEOPLE to humble themselves before God, fast and pray, seeking God and His protection.

Lead Humbly

Upon arrival in Jerusalem, Ezra is informed that  the priests and Levites in Jerusalem had intermarried with the women who “lived in the land”.  God had instructed the people of Israel not to do this; they were only to marry other Israelites, they were to keep themselves separate from the people who were native in that land.  Ezra is devastated to hear this news and some of the people who had traveled with him “trembled at the words of the God of Israel” (Ezra 9:4).  Ezra’s prayer in Chapter 9 shows Ezra’s love and devotion to HIS God, he:

  • Admits and confesses his shame and the sin and guilt of the people
  • Praises God’s grace in leaving a faithful remnant
  • Thanks God for revival and His lovingkindness
  • Recognizes God’s righteousness and right to judge the people’s sin.

I love Ezra’s honesty in this prayer.  He pours it all out to God, he holds nothing back. He completely trusts God to do what is just and right and relies on God’s goodness and mercy.  The sin of the people broke his heart and it should break ours too. Ezra talks it all out with God BEFORE he talks to the leaders and the people.  This is great reminder to me to talk to God first about everything and listen to what God says before I seek wisdom from any other source!

Make the Tough Call

One of the priests comes to Ezra and says, “Arise! For this matter is your responsibility, but we will be with you; be courageous and act.” (Ezra 10:4)  Ezra knows what he must do.  He makes a proclamation and the people agree  to put away (divorce) their foreign wives.  He selects leaders to investigate and make a list of those who had committed this transgression.  Ezra makes the tough call to follow God and not what is easy, comfortable or socially acceptable.

Peer pressure is a powerful force and it is easier to follow the crowd.  God wanted the people of Israel to be set apart to holiness; God’s standards do not change, His people today are to be set apart to holiness.  I need to stand apart from the world, to live in the world but not be of the world.  Ezra takes decisive and difficult action to remove the sin; he does not hesitate.  His action seems harsh and it is but when God says, “Stop” there cannot be compromise or partial obedience; it must be all or nothing!  That cockroach was in the wrong place at the wrong time and he was messing with the wrong people.  He looked big in the drawer but pretty small squashed on the sidewalk!

Like most men of his time, Ezra was probably small in stature.  In addition to Chapters 7 – 10 of the Book of Ezra, he is mentioned several times in the Book of Nehemiah and then disappears from the Bible.  He helped rebuild the temple of Jerusalem and may have worked on the wall alongside Nehemiah.  Compared to many other men and women in God’s Word, his accomplishments were not so big.  Ezra did not seek to be in a position of leadership and responsibility, he knew God had placed him there and he knew God would lead him step by step and this made him a powerful and influential leader.  All of us are leading in some fashion and like Ezra, it is a lot easier to lead when you know who you are following.  So stay outside you cockroaches – I’m wearing boots to work from now on!

Men of Issachar

Media is blowing up with news, controversy and opinions on Caitlyn/Bruce Jenner and the Duggar family.  Arguments and accusations fly back and forth.  Christians are accused of hiding truth, of being judgmental.   Some Christians are appalled and angry at the situation and the generalizations of Christians as unkind and unloving; other Christians cry that America is worse than Sodom and Gomorrah.  It can be difficult to know how to respond amidst the confusion.

David, the great King of Israel, was able to achieve his many battle victories because of God’s blessing and his faithful followers; his Mighty Men.  1 Chronicles 12 describes the Mighty Men as men who were:

  • Ambidextrous – could handle weapons with both right and left hands.
  • Well-trained.
  • Faces like lions.
  • Swift as gazelles.
  • The least of which was equal to 100 “regular” men, the greatest equal to 1,000.
  • Strong and brave swimmers, crossing the Jordan when it was at flood stage.

Two groups of men in particular capture my attention:

  • Sons of Issachar were few in number, only 200, but they are commended as men who understood the times and had knowledge of what to do, and,
  • the men of Zebulun who had undivided hearts.

Oh God, I pray that you would make me like the Sons of Issachar, a woman who understands the times in which I live. Help me to know when to speak and when to stay silent.  Help me to know how to respond;  that my words would be seasoned with salt and useful to those who hear them.  That I would not hesitate to speak truth from Your Word and that I would be a grace-extender in accordance with the great grace I have received.

Oh God, help me to be like the men of Zebulun, that my heart would be totally dedicated to following You as these men followed David.  Help Your church to be unified in purpose; to know You and to make You known.  

Oh God, help me, help all of Your followers, to be found worthy of being called by Your name; of being called Christian.

Woman Without a Name

Prospective parents spend hours discussing and researching the right name for their little ones. Countless books and websites as well as friends and family are full of helpful  suggestions, opinions and ideas. Your name identifies who you are but actually tells very little about the whole person.   Due to marriage, divorce and remarriage, my name, like the names of many other women, has actually changed a few times. Unless a person is really important to you or it is someone you see frequently, their name is easily and quickly forgotten.

The book of 2 Kings, tells of a woman of Shunem. This woman is mentioned in Chapters 4 and again in Chapter 8; we are never told her name, she is referred to always and only as “the Shunammite”.

She is a prominent woman but we are not told how this came to be (2 Kings 4:8). She is hospitable, inviting Elisha to dine and building a small room for his exclusive use when he is in her neighborhood (2 Kings 4:10). She is content; when Elisha asks how he can repay her kindness she asks for nothing. She is childless and her husband is elderly; Elisha tells her she will embrace a son next year (2 Kings 4:16). She is courageous, calm, and determined, when her son dies, she tells no one and rides quickly to Elisha (2 Kings 4:20 – 27). She is humble and grateful; Elisha comes to her home, restores her son to life; she falls at his feet in gratitude (2 King 4:37). Some time passes and Elisha warns the Shunammite woman to leave her home and find a new place wherever she can; a seven-year famine is coming. She is wise and obedient; she does not hesitate, she leaves immediately and settles in the land of the Philistines for seven years (2 Kings 8:1, 2). She is bold, upon her return she appeals to the King for the return of her house and property (2 Kings 8:3). She is honest, the King, hearing about her, asks her to tell her story; her story matches what he had been told and the King not only restores her property but orders that she be given any produce from the seven years she was away (2 Kings 8:6)

In a time of plenty, the Shunammite is generous. In a time of sorrow, she is purposeful and controlled. Given a gift she is grateful, given advice she listens. During a time of want she is not afraid but takes practical and decisive action. She is known, recognized, recorded and remembered as a woman with no name but of vast integrity.  I believe God purposefully does not tell us her name because He wants the focus on what matters; on her actions and character. She could be “Anywoman”.  The story of this woman without a name makes me wonder how people would describe me.  I pray that my character is worthy of remembrance and imitation long after my name is forgotten and that God would transform me from the inside out, conforming me to His image. I know that when I get to heaven God will give me a new name, the perfect name – I can’t wait!

He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes, to him I will give some of the hidden manna, and I will give him a white stone, and a new name written on the stone which no one knows but he who receives it. Revelation 2:17

Mukuntuweap – Stand Straight Land

Years ago I took one of those self-assessment tests.  This particular test was intended to help you understand what to do or where you need to be to feel close to God; the idea is that once you know this about yourself you need to go and do that activity or be in that place – often and regularly.  My assessment told me I hear God best when I am studying His Word and feel especially close to Him when I am out in nature.

This week I was able to combine both when I visited Zion National Park in Utah.  Mukuntuweap, or Stand Straight Land, is the name given to this area by the Paiute Indian people.

As the sun was rising over the peaks of this Stand Straight Land, I turned to Psalms to help me praise the Lord…

“Out of Zion, the perfection of beauty, God has shone forth.”  Psalm 50

“May the Lord bless you from Zion, He who made the heaven and the earth.” Psalm 134

“The Lord will reign forever, Your God, O Zion, to all generations. Praise the Lord.”  Psalm 146

…and my favorite…

“How blessed is the man whose strength is in You; in whose heart are the highways to Zion.”  Psalm 84:5

Later that same day, hiking the Kayenta Trail to the Lower Emerald Pool, I was brought to tears by the beauty of this place and how blessed I felt to see and experience a small part of it.  Every few steps I had to stop and gaze at the surrounding rocks and landscape.  Really that is what Zion is, just rocks, trees, tall rock walls, many rising straight up from the ground, and if you’ve seen one rock you’ve seen them all right?

But if Zion and places like it are not such a big deal, just bunches of old rocks, why do people travel from around the world to spend time here?  There are places that are much more accessible, much easier to walk in.  There are temperature controlled places so you are neither too hot or too cold.  It is work to get to the spots with the breath-taking views and other people have already been there and done that so you could just look at their photos and YouTube videos and save yourself some time, money and effort.

I think a lot of people are like me; they long to be in a place where they can feel close to God and that place is in His creation.  Not all of these people know that God is drawing them.  Some will deny this reason.  But something larger than ourselves draws us to see and personally experience beautiful places and the spend time outdoors.  That “something larger” is God and now part of my heart remains on the highway to Zion, among the incredible and beautiful rocks of Stand Straight Land.

“My soul exalts the Lord, and my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior.”

One of those days…

Taking a quick walk outside the office it hit me again…God is so majestic and awesome, He created this beautiful world, He makes the sunshine and keeps the sun in its place.  He made the water and the water is sparkling with sunshine.  He made a variety of trees and plants in the world to give shade and beauty; He made it all and it is good.

He has made me able to walk around and enjoy His beauty, to feel the sunshine, to hear the birds.  He put me in this beautiful place.  He gave me a job and a mind to learn.  He gave me a family, people to care about and people who care about me.  He gave me His only Son.  He delights in me. He gives me joy.

He is God and there is no other.

Feeling Foolish

In case you haven’t noticed the world is full of fools.  And, they seem to be multiplying!

Among fools there are several different varieties.  There are fools that are just plain ignorant and don’t know any better.  The “anything for a laugh” fool will go to extremes to get attention, loads of these fools on You Tube and Vine.  Fools have always been around, the Bible has a few stories about fools, Balaam comes to mind here (see Numbers 22 for his story).  And there are the fools who totally deny the existence of God, “The fool said in his heart, “There is no God.”  Psalm 14:1

But who or what is the worst kind of fool?  It is the fool who has made a god according to his or her own design.  “For a fool speaks nonsense, And his heart inclines toward wickedness: To practice ungodliness and to speak error against the Lord, To keep the hungry person unsatisfied And to withhold drink from the thirsty.” Isaiah 32:6 This is the fool who believes that there is a god and perhaps even believes in the God of the Bible.  The fool who lives by a set of rules that is an amalgam of personal feelings, preferences and God’s Word.  The fool who sometimes sits in church Sunday but then does whatever makes her/him feel good Monday through Saturday.   The fool who visits church after church trying to find the “one that fits” instead of the one preaching truth.  The fool whose life is a mess, who keeps on doing the same foolish things over and over and just cannot figure out why their life is a mess.  The arrogant fool who believes that he/she can pick and choose when and how to obey God and that somehow God will not only understand and forgive but bless.  God is so big, so powerful, so omnipotent, He does not fit our mold or conform to our image, we are to allow Him to transform us into His image as He renews our mind.  It is all Him and none of us.

But there is one more kind of fool.  The kind of fool who does not follow the standards and goals of this world.  The kind of fool who has decided to follow Christ fully; who is all in for God and His Word.  The 1 Corinthians 4:10 fool, “We are fools for Christ’s sake, but you are prudent in Christ; we are weak, but you are strong; you are distinguished, but we are without honor.

Being a fool is a choice.  Which kind of fool are you?  Which kind do you want to be?  What steps do you need to take to change?  I chose Christ’s fool, the one I want to be, hoping to be more foolish every day!

You Get What You Get

There was a very limited menu in the home I grew up in and my kids were raised in the same kind of home.  Meals were prepared, you sat down to eat and you ate what was served.  Most meals were planned and prepared based on Dad’s favorites, available budget and Mom’s inspirations.  As a kid, we never ate brussels sprouts, casseroles, or raw broccoli because my Dad did not like those; we did eat mashed potatoes, gravy, pot roast and roast chicken – big Dad favorites.  In my home, I do most of the meal planning and always have, in general I did it the way my mom did, I cooked what my husband and I liked and what the budget would allow.  I did try to include some kid favorites such as macaroni and cheese.  My kids never had to eat brussels sprouts either but they were expected to eat whatever was cooked and served without complaining.

I didn’t have a lot of patience for complaints about the food choices then and I still don’t have a lot of patience with complaints or complainers; it is all too easy complain and once that train gets rolling it is very difficult to stop.  The Israelites apparently complained loudly and often, there are numerous episodes of their complaining recorded in the Old Testament.

The book of Numbers, chapter 10 verse 33 tells us that the Israelites left the mount of the Lord and walked for three days, their first, organized march.  They had spent a year camped in the desert and at the end of these first 3 days they set up camp; Numbers 11 records that they immediately start complaining!

They complain about the situation they are in,

“Now the people became like those who complain of adversity in the hearing of the Lord;”

And then they complain about what they are not eating,

Who will give us meat to eat? We remember the fish which we used to eat free in Egypt, the cucumbers and the melons and the leeks and the onions and the garlic,”.  

Next they complain about what they are eating, 

“There is nothing at all to look at except this manna.”

Moses jumps on the “Complain Train” bemoaning the difficulty of leading these baby whiners,

I alone am not able to carry all this people, because it is too burdensome for me.  So if You are going to deal thus with me, please kill me at once,”

God’s anger is kindled greatly and He has a dramatic and swift response to this chorus of complaints:

  • Warning – the Lord sends a fire that burns the outskirts of the camp.  Certainly God could have burned it all, He chose to burn just some and the fire died out when Moses interceded in prayer.  Has God given you a gentle warning?  Are your complaints becoming tiresome to those around you?
  • Mercy – God anoints 70 elders, men to assist Moses in listening to complaints and settling disputes.  There were over 600,000 adult male Israelites at this time and an unknown number of women and children, a lot of complainers and problems.  Have you considered that God may be holding back on allowing some bigger/worse problem your way?
  • Provision – God sends quail and lots of it, 36 inches deep worth of quail.  I have never eaten quail but I guess it would be a welcome change from manna.  Most people are like me, I have everything I need to survive, maybe not exactly what I want but what I truly need.  Does this describe your life?  Am I, are you, grateful for what you do have?
  • Punishment – Plague, possibly a result of all the quail, rotting since there was too much of it to collect, clean and cook.  The people were so greedy the place was renamed Kibroth-Hattaavvah, Graves of Greediness.  God is patient and long-suffering but He is also just, He will never protect us from experiencing the consequences of our choices.

I cannot be too hard on these Israelites because this sounds so like me at times.  I complain because it is too hot or too cold, my feet hurt, I’m tired, I don’t like where I am, I want to be somewhere else, I have to dust the stuff I have, I can’t afford to buy more stuff, I wish I could afford a steak, I am sick of eating salads, brussels sprouts look and smell weird, my clothes are shrinking, I have no time to exercise, exercise is too difficult, and on and on and on it goes.

Complaints are an insult to God.  Complaining sends the message that God’s gifts are just not good enough.  Philippians 4:6 tells me that I am free to ask God for whatever I want but I need to ask humbly and receive whatever He sends with gratitude.  This story makes me think of Violet Beauregarde from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.  She’s the greedy girl who wants everything she sees.   She ignores Willy Wonka’s warning about his experimental chewing gum, grabs it and pops it into her mouth.  She begins to turn a delightful shade of blue and inflates, turning into a huge round blueberry.

So be careful!  You get what you get but when you get what you want it might make you sick but not to worry, no brussels sprouts served in this house!