Selective Memory

Exodus 16:1 “….and all the congregation of the children of Israel came to the Wilderness of Sin…after they departed from the land of Egypt.”

Observation: The early stages of their exodus had brought them to a beautiful resting place…an oasis called Elim. Exodus 15:17 describes it as a place of “twelve wells of water and seventy palm trees”, and says they camped there by the waters.

From there it was a short journey to the Wilderness of Sin, where they famously began complaining against Moses and Aaron that they had no bread, no meat, none of the niceties of Egyptian slavery.

Application: Isn’t a darkened mind a strange thing, selective in the extreme? They had left behind the savagery of their daily lives in Egypt…the beatings and backbreaking labor under desert sun…and all they seem to remember is that they had been sufficiently fed to survive captivity for another day.

Since then God had brought a deliverer (Moses) to set them free. They had escaped unscathed from the ten plagues, plundered their captors’ gold and other finery, seen God hold Egypt’s army at bay by fire and cloud, crossed the Red Sea on miraculously dry ground, watched God annihilate Pharaoh’s army, and then taken rest at what would arguably be the finest resort any of them would see for the rest of their livesYet at their very next step their backward-looking hearts complained of God’s abandonment to what they believed would be certain doom. It is no wonder this occurred in a place called the Wilderness of Sin!

Still, before I become too critical I must confess my own selective memory. I have experienced the fullness of joy in ways small and large as God has met me in past times of need. Yet as each day brings fresh challenges I am confronted anew with a choice to either press through in faith and confidence, or to murmur and complain as the Israelites in Sin.

Orphaned and enslaved, under cruel taskmasters, God knew the Israelites had no context for understanding sonship. The orphan mentality had been ground into them over 400 years during which all remembrance of what it meant to be a child of Abraham had gradually extinguished. Yet God called them out of their darkness by a Spirit of Adoption, into relationship with a Father of limitless resources who promised to never leave nor forsake them. It would be a long, hard slog before they would arrive at the Promised Land of their physical and spiritual destiny.

So it is with me. I am on the Israelites’ journey, seemingly moving from a modern oasis of seventy palms where health is good, money is available and needs are met, to a next day filled with enough challenges to bring utter despair if I allow myself to be governed by a selective memory.

Prayer: Father, I choose today to live in Your peace in the knowledge of Your unmatchable love. Each day’s challenges are merely Your training ground to teach me to cast off orphanhood, and to live instead like a son of the good King. Thank You Lord, for your faithfulness in every situation.

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