"...spread a table in the wilderness?"
This question jumped out at me the other day as I was reading in the Psalms - one of my favorite books in the Bible. The ancient question seemed to echo similar thoughts revolving in my heart and mind in recent days.
Do I believe God can meet my needs here - in Uganda? Can He satisfy my deepest longings? Will He provide what I must have to continue in the coming months, or even years? If He does call me here "longer-term," will He grant what I believe I require to remain serving here - possibly indefinitely?
Lately, I have been swaying between loving what I do here and really longing to be home, between being fine with being single and desiring someone to share life and ministry with. I have been caught up in times of loneliness and then just wanting to be alone.
At times I have felt like a little girl beating her small fists against the big strong chest of her Father. "Daddy, why can't I have this? I want it! I need it!"
Psalm 78:19 convicted me.
"They spoke against God, saying, 'Can God spread a table in the wilderness?'"
We as Christians know God will take care of our basic needs. The Gospel of Matthew teaches us that with food and clothes we should be content and Jesus instructed us to ask our Heavenly Father for "our daily bread" - not steak and mashed potatoes.
But, do I serve a stingy God? Will He give me only what I require today, nothing more? After all, if He overblesses me, might I become a spoiled child?
Yes, I have food, clothes, a place to sleep - I should be content, right? But I am not. I admit, I am not satisfied with just having my basic needs met.
And neither were the Israelites. Actually, they weren't satisfied, period. God had just miraculously delivered them from 400 years of slavery to the world power at that time, and had literally crushed the pursuing enemy army and its fierce king. Now He was preparing to lead this new nation to a Promised Land, an abundant and incredible new home.
And all the people could think about was what was for lunch. It's amazing how hunger pains can fuel discontentment.
"They willfully put God to the test by demanding the food they craved." (vs. 18)
So, God gave them what they craved - bread and meat. He threw open heaven's storehouses and rained down manna and quail - filling their mouths and their greedy stomachs and hearts.
"Human beings ate the bread of angels; He sent them all the food they could eat." (vs. 25)
"They ate till they were gorged - He had given them what they craved." (vs. 29)
And then God judged them for craving what was base and fleshly and corruptible.
"But before they turned from what they craved, even while the food was still in their mouths, God’s anger rose against them; He put to death the sturdiest among them, cutting down the young men of Israel." (vs. 30-31)
And this was only the beginning of Israel's idolatrous escapades, which would continue for years and even generations.
"They put God to the test and rebelled against the Most High; they did not keep his statutes. Like their ancestors they were disloyal and faithless, as unreliable as a faulty bow. They angered him with their high places; they aroused his jealousy with their idols." (vs. 56-58)
The truth is, God wanted so much for them - far more than they could even imagine.
"But you would be fed with the finest of wheat; with honey from the rock I would satisfy you.” (Psalm 81:16)
God wanted to foremost satisfy the Israelites with Himself. He wanted to be their only God, their only King, their first Source, their primary Satisfaction, but they kept setting their half-closed eyes on corruptible cravings, rather than lifting them to the One who could meet every single need they could ever imagine.
And not just their needs, but their greatest desires. Better than that, He wanted to transform their desires, taking them to a whole new level.
Yes, God can spread a table in the wilderness. He can bring water from a rock and rain down bread and meat. He can and will meet our basic needs, but He delights to do so much for us. If we let Him. If we stop craving the corruptible.
Above all He wants to satisfy us with Himself. After all, He is the Source of all good things and the Giver of all good gifts. (Matthew 7:11) Why settle for less?
In recent days, I have been trying to raise my sights from base and fleshly desires to put my Hope in my Redeemer. He can do so much more than satisfy a hungry stomach or an aching heart, He can soothe and fill a dry and parched soul with His incredible presence and His glorious gifts. And He has done it for me.
Are you passing through a "wilderness" time?
Do you believe God can provide not just what you need, but your greatest desires?
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