Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Addicted to Egypt

Posted by shona tiger

No one likes to go through the wilderness (which is Christianese for a hard time). The bad news is, there’s no getting away from it. Even if you are going through a good time right now, and you do nothing differently, pretty soon along will come a wilderness experience.

The default mind mode is to complain about how hard things have become, to gripe about one’s current lot, to cry out to whatever deities exist and shake one’s fist at the heavens. And don’t think that’s just heathens and pagans- no, you too, Christian, will complain about how hard things have become, will gripe about your current lot, cry out to God, and shake your fist at heaven. That’s kind of the default human condition, to not go through hard times well. There seems to be no earthly reason to try and look at things from a different perspective, to see the beauty of the wilderness, to learn well what lessons it may bring.

So here I am, nowhere I planned to be. Panic is trying to find a permanent place in my heart, and once in a while I wake up with thoughts that no one should have in the still of the night. When that happens, I have learnt to pray, meditate on God’s word, and usually the panic goes away. You see, panic has not very much to do with the situation, most times; it’s usually a useless emotion, leading you away from a solution (if you follow it) rather than towards help and hope. So early this morning I got up, and got my old, torn Amplified Bible to pray about the future, and came across an index card written by my sister (for herself):

Remember that you’re going through a new season.  What’s a new season like? UNCOMFORTABLE. We’re used to the way old things looked, the way we used to do things; but pretty soon we realise that the old way isn’t working anymore.

My mind keeps coming back to the Israelites whining (no other word) in the wilderness. I have always been astonished that they could miss slavery, cry out to go back to Egypt. They told Moses (and God) that he had surely brought them out to the wilderness to die. That’s the way the wilderness feels- like it’ll be the death of me. Nothing is the way it was. Nothing’s comfortable. I am longing for the way things were; I am addicted to Egypt, or at least the memory of it. I miss opening a tap, and getting my water that way. I miss walking into the mall and buying clothes, or walking to the market to buy food without thinking about it, never thinking about how to get the money to do that. I’ve forgotten why I left. I’ve forgotten the excitement of knowing I am going to a new place, a place of my own, a place of freedom. Now that I’m in the wilderness, Egypt- my past- looks so, so great.

But this, my friends, is a new level: new levels, new devils, Tudor Bismarck, my old pastor used to say. I need to get my mind around this: things are different around here. Everything has changed. The old way just doesn’t cut it around here anymore. God is doing a new thing.


So where’s the beauty? Here’s the thing: I can’t rely on my own old resources anymore. I am being remade, for the future. God is stripping away old thoughts and ways, to prepare me for great new things. This is where I get empowered for those great new things. This is where I get leave my past behind, with all my old thoughts about myself and God, my old reactions, everything I don’t need for the future. This is where I get stripped down to only what I need (no fat), and get trained for conquering new lands. This is where I make the mental transition to what’s coming. I need to recognise this for what it really is: the transition period between old and new, my past and my future. God hasn’t abandoned me at all. And no, he isn’t actually trying to kill me; only my thoughts are. I’m not really going to die of hunger. And to be honest, if I do lose everything in this season, I didn’t need it for where I’m going. The hardest thing is to keep my mind in place, when it would wander all over the place. So, the wilderness is mostly for remaking my mind.

In recent weeks I’ve been singing this part of the song Oceans (Where Feet May Fail) by Hillsong, to myself and to God:

How else does that happen, but by being led to uncomfortable new places? How else but by trying to walk out to the Saviour on the water? How else but by experiencing things I have never felt before, by being stretched in ways I never imagined? Would I ever have left if I had known what would happen next? And yet I had to leave Egypt, so I must embrace this place that leads me to where I’m going. This is the place I’ve been praying for; this is the sign to me that I’m going to new places (because everything has changed). This is strange; this is change.

It’s not happening the way I expected, because I am in a completely foreign place; how could I have known what to expect? But I am on my way, and I will go with courage. I will recognise my panic and fear for what they are- being uncomfortable with this new place, this new way of doing things- and deal with them appropriately. I choose to have faith, because I am standing at the edge of destiny, with all the excitement that brings. And I choose to work with God as I am remade for what comes next.

It’s time to let go of my addiction: and so, goodbye, Egypt. Goodbye to the way things were. The future's on its way.

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