Monday, February 9, 2009

Grumble: Humble

I sent an e-mail to some of my family today and decided I might as well share it with all of you too. It's a beneficial message for me and perhaps it will be to some of you as well.

(A special note to Tonia: I wrote and sent your letter this weekend... when I was feeling in a grumbling state. I hope you will forgive my bit of complaining in the letter you will receive from me and know that I am, with God's grace and with hope, moving on to a more joyful place. ) :)

Hello my family,

It is with some humility that I share with you something God showed me last night.

I had a challenging day yesterday for the first part of the day. Nothing out of the ordinary. But I awoke feeling glum and began listing in my head all of the things that were not right for me and how I had been done wrong. I visited and re-visited these thoughts. Then, with a hearty dose of righteous indignation, I also listed just why this should not be so, for all my efforts. :( I was very unhappy; angry, a bit resentful, and upset even with myself for feeling I could not change the course of my feelings.

Things improved in the afternoon and evening, thank goodness. I felt more myself just before bed. Paul was on the computer and I decided to have a look at some verses our pastor listed for us to look up this week in regard to next week's lesson. These, of course, were unrelated to my own dilemma... supposedly. ;)

We were looking up references to Jesus in the Old Testament. Numbers 21:9 is the verse I was looking for. But the whole of the passage struck me, as well as the commentary in the margins of my Bible. Here it is:
Numbers 21: 4b - 9 (emphasis mine)

"But the people grew impatient on the way; they spoke out against God and against Moses, and said, 'Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the desert? There is no bread! There is no water! And we detest this miserable food!'

Then the LORD sent venemous snakes among them; they bit the people and many Israelites died. The people came to Moses and said, 'We sinnned when we spoke against the LORD and against you. Pray that the LORD will take the snakes away from us.' So Moses prayed for the people.

The LORD said to Moses, 'Make a snake and put it up on a pole; anyone who is bitten can look at it and live.' So Moses made a bronze snake and put it up on a pole. Then when anyone was bitten by a snake and looked at the bronze snake, he lived."

I'd like to believe that I wouldn't be a grumbler after God had so brilliantly shown Himself to be real to His people by the miracles in Egypt, the parting of the sea, the pillars of cloud and fire that went before them, and the gifts of manna and quail, along with many other evidences of His provision.

But I don't really know. 40 years is a long time... my own entire lifetime. Would I trust God to bring me to the promised land?

I too am on the way and I have my own ideas of how I think things ought to go and ought to be going for me. I have my own ideas of how the kingdom should look and feel. My present circumstances fall short of those ideals and I have been a grumbler.

One commentary in the sidebar of my Bible asks, "Why was God so strict about complaining?" And then answers, "The people's complaining was symptomatic of a much deeper problem; distrust of God. Their verbal barrage assaulted God's character. Israel refused to take God at His word."

My circumstances haven't changed. And I confess that I still want to hang on to a bit of righteous indignation. But I am asking God, this week, to help me let that go; I know I can't do it on my own.

Jesus said in Luke 12: 32, "Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom."

Notes from my pastor this Sunday say that the kingdom:

- is ours, it is, it really exists
- is ours, we, together, not just me
- is ours, given to us
- is ours, not to be taken away
- is ours entrusted to us for our safe keeping
- is ours, we will be responsible for the outcome

God is pleased to give us the kingdom and despite my frustrations and fears of trying - of exerting myself, reaching out and making myself vulnerable, I am not to be afraid. Even though I feel wounded and burnt, I am not to be afraid. Even though outcomes are not what I would anticipate, I am not to be afraid.

I am trying hard now to see the kingdom unfolding around me as God would have it - not as Nicole would have it.

I am trying to practice gratitude for everything He has already given me and remember the joy I had in first receiving His various gifts. I don't want to take anything for granted. I don't want to be a grumbler.

I know that different things strike us at different times in our lives as being important and what one person finds a powerful message from God may not be the same for others; you may not be at this place in your life. But I still thought I would share. I know that generally, as a nation, we are all struggling in one way or another. I think we have come to believe that we are a blessed nation and that comfort and ease are our rights. We may all be tempted to grumble. I hope there may be something in here that you will find useful. :)

Hope you're having a good start to a great week!

Love,
Nicole
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