Yesterday, I introduced Moses and the Israelites in the Book of Exodus. Today, we continue the conversation from Numbers …
From Mount Hor they set out by the way to the Red Sea, to go around the land of Edom; but the people became impatient on the way. The people spoke against God and against Moses, “Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? For there is no food and no water, and we detest this miserable food.” Then the Lord send poisonous serpents among the people, and they bit the people, so that many Israelites died. ~ Numbers 21:4-6 (NRSV)
Despite being offered God’s perfect portion of manna, the Israelites were not satisfied. Have you ever been to one of those mega buffet restaurants only to discover it’s not what you expected or the serving trays with food you really like are empty? The Israelites were unhappy customers at the Manna Buffet, but they teach me four valuable lessons about physical health and spiritual well-being:
1. Patience really is a virtue.
Scripture plainly says the Israelites became impatient. They were hungry and tired, a dangerous combination if you’re like me. They didn’t want to wait a moment longer. God was taking too long and their stomachs were growling. They probably shouted, “I want what I want when I want it and I want it right now!” Not my will God, but yours, this I pray.
2. My plan is best … or not.
Oh sweet, sweet Israelites I sympathize with you! Many times I have orchestrated the perfect scenario only to realize God has a different idea. My plan is great for me and terrible for everyone else, including God. My selfish desires lead to frustration and discontent. Not my will God, but yours, this I pray.
3. God always provides.
When the Israelites got angry with God and said they had no food, it was a lie. They had food (manna) and perfect portions of it, but they didn’t like or want it. Scripture also says God provided birds of the air (presumably quail) for the Israelites to eat with their manna – they had food and had it abundantly. I can relate. My fridge and pantry are stocked with fresh fruit, veggies and greens for a salad, and lean meat. But what I want – really want – is a bowl of processed carbohydrates (preferably pasta) or homemade yeast rolls slathered in butter. Not my will God, but yours, this I pray.
4. There are always consequences.
Growing up, I did not necessarily have tantrums but I had an attitude. When that ‘sass’ got me into trouble, my parents had their ways of getting my attention – quick, fast, and in a hurry! Like a parent disciplining their child, God gets my attention too. For the Israelites, God sent them poisonous snakes. Eeek, I hate snakes! As much as the Israelites detested God’s manna, they hated the snakes even more. They were a result of the Israelites’ disobedience. As a sinner, I like keeping my sins hidden. This blog series is a huge step of faith, exposing the skeletons in my closet while drawing nearer to Him, but I know what I am doing is right and I accept responsibility for eating like I did. It’s a slow process, but I’m learning to eat healthy, improve my body’s physical condition and, as a result, growing closer to The One who created me for His honor and glory. Not my will God, but yours, this I pray.
To stay focused on my physical and spiritual goals, I keep three Post-It notes taped to the mirror in my bathroom and on the fridge so I can see these words of wisdom:
- When you truly understand that your food choices are powerful and life affirming, you can exercise control and restraint without deprivation. ~ Marlene Adelmann
- The food you eat can either be the safest and most powerful form of medicine or the slowest form of poison. ~ Ann Wigmore
- You are what you eat so don’t be fast, cheap, easy, or fake. ~ Unknown
Everything I consume is either for the health or destruction of my body. My serpents are higher-than-normal cholesterol, pants (the fat ones) that are tight, and weakness in my physical body and spiritual life.
God, you are the Master Creator and I am sorry for taking my body, your holy temple, for granted. Your ways are better than mine and I am ready to change my eating habits to be stronger, healthier, and faithful to you. Lord, you are the perfect portion. Fill me up with your love and grace and mercy so there is not room for anything else. Not my will God, but yours, this I pray.