and led for the the south wind by His power.
He rained meat down on them like dust,
flying birds like sand on the seashore.
He made them come down inside their camp,
all around their tents.
They ate till they had more than enough,
for He had given them what they craved.
But before they turned from the food they craved,
even while it was in their mouths,
God's anger rose against them;
He put to death the sturdiest among them,
cutting down the young men of Israel.
The story of Israel's craving for meat when God was providing them manna in the wilderness (Numbers 11) has come to mind a few times recently; now that it's also come up as my morning reading, it's safe to assume He wants my attention.
Seems to be my nature to want something other than what God is giving me at any given time, to assume that my desire (however good or twisted it may be) is better than His plan for me, and to grumble and whine to get my way. I'm hardly in the minority on this: Sunday's congregational meeting was an exercise in grumbling and whining, and I'd not have blamed any of our leaders for saying, as Moses did, "Why have You brought this trouble on Your servant? What have I done to displease You that You put the burden of all these people on me? Did I conceive these people? Did I give them birth? Why do You tell me to carry them in my arms, as a nurse carries an infant, to the land You promised on oath to their forefathers?" (Numbers 11:11-12). Personally, I left frustrated and discouraged, so much so that I couldn't even bring myself to join in prayer with friends at Sunday evening's gathering.
Fear is the motivator, the opposite of faith. Fear that God will not be powerful enough, or good enough, or love me better than I can love myself. Fear that I have been abandoned, orphaned, left to my own devices. If that's true— or even a possibilty— I have to control my world, look out for myself, make life work, get while the getting is good, and protect myself from the arrows that have pierced me throughout memory. I have to shout to be heard, guard to be safe, and plot to have any future worth having.
Sometimes His way is to turn us over to our cravings until they make us sick, to grant even the wrong desires of our hearts in hopes that some would see the folly of our way and turn again to Him. His judgement sounds harsh to my postmodern ears, but this is the God I have to wrestle, engage, be present with. I can't water Him down and be in authentic relationship with Him. He won't stand for it. Though He keeps me safe, He is dangerous.
The corporate lessons apply more deeply to myself. In my own heart, my cravings have made me sick, yet too often, not as sick as I need to be. How far will I push? How drastic will His discipline need to be to bring the gift of repentance? Every time I crash, I pray it's rock bottom. This time? Here's praying.
In spite of this, they kept on sinning;
in spite of His wonders, they did not believe.
So He ended their days in futility
and their years in terror.
Whenever God slew them, they would seek Him;
they eagerly turned to Him again.
They remembered that God was their Rock,
that God Most High was their Redeemer.
But then they would flatter Him with their mouths,
lying to Him with their tongues;
their hearts were not loyal to Him,
they were not faithful to His covenant.
Yet He was merciful;
He forgave their iniquities
and did not destroy them.
Time after time He restrained His anger
and did not stir up His full wrath.
He remembered that they were but flesh,
a passing breeze that does not return.