Live long enough and you learn that life is never a straight road but consists of unexpected turns, frightening valleys and desolate deserts.
Those happy moments experienced on the mountaintops offer an unobstructed view of God’s blessings and how far He has brought us.
Yet when wandering through the lonely deserts of discouragement, that breathtaking mountaintop view of miracles and mercy quickly fades from memory.
We become emotionally exhausted and spiritually parched in the dry terrains of anxiety, worry and fear.
Others have experienced this too.
The Israelites’ departed Egypt for the Promised Land which required a long trek through a scorching desert where they would witness God’s wondrous working power.
At the Red Sea they saw the waters “divided and the Israelites went through on dry ground with a wall of water on their right and on their left.” (Ex 14:22)
In this suffocatingly hot region, God’s faithfulness was evident providing them manna and quail yet their trust in Him wavered as the dream-killer of doubt infected the camp.
Moses said “In spite of this you did not trust in the Lord your God who went ahead of you on your journey in fire by night and a cloud by day, to search out places for you to camp and to show you the way you should go.” (Deut. 1:32-33)
He reminded them that “The Lord your God who is going before you will fight for you as He did in Egypt before your very eyes and in the desert. There you saw how the Lord carried you as a father carries his child . . . ” (Deut. 1:30-31)
It would be easy to self-righteously criticize these complaining children of God except I too was guilty of forgetting to remember.
During hard times I forgot how often He carried me when I stumbled under life’s pressures, how many battles I stood no chance of winning that He fought on my behalf and how many messes I made He cleaned up.
When we find ourselves struggling with our finances, health, relationships, jobs, family or future how easy it is to blame God accusing Him of child neglect totally forgetting yesterday’s miracles.
Those times He rescued me from self-imposed storms were distant memories when temporary circumstances blinded me.
I failed to recall David’s exhortation to “forget not all His benefits, who forgives all your sins, who heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from destruction, who crowns you with lovingkindness and tender mercies, who satisfies your mouth with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.” (Ps 103:2-5)
God, like any parent, wants to enjoy a beautiful relationship with us.
A healthy relationship requires regular communication and equal giving and receiving between both parties.
We all have that friend who only contacts us when a favor is needed.
They have little interest in events in our lives because life revolves around them and their current drama or crisis.
After a while we sadly realize we are not part of a “friendship.”
It hurts. Deeply.
I can’t help but wonder how often have I pierced God’s heart behaving like that friend only contacting Him when I needed a miracle yet showing little interest in Him otherwise?
Neglecting His word, never being grateful for all He has done, angry instead of where I felt my life was lacking or coming to Him only when I had a need.
I have purposely distanced myself from people who behave towards me like this yet I have treated Him the same way.
Oh it hurts to even admit that but it is the truth.
As Moses called the Israelites out he called me out too as I had forgotten to remember.
Yes, we still come to God with hands out when we have a need.
But let us also come to Him with hands lifted thankful for those desert moments in our lives where we witnessed His amazing, unmerited faithfulness and provision.
Let’s come to Him with gratitude instead of grumbling, praise instead of pouting, excitement instead of envy or entitlement, to give rather than to receive, serve rather than be served and to worship instead of worry.
And today let us not forget to remember that He is always present, always providing, fiercely fighting and compassionately carrying us through the deserts to our Promised Land.