God Shows Up in the Desert
Several years ago I served as a teaching pastor on the staff of a local church. One Sunday morning after preaching in a service, I made my way to the car with my family. We said some cordial goodbyes to fellow church members in the parking lot and loaded up the minivan to head home.
As we were about to exit, another car came flying through the parking lot and cut me off. At first I thought someone was just joking around, but I quickly realized this guy was seriously trying to make sure he could exit the parking lot before we did.
“Are you freaking kidding, dude!?” I yelled in the car.
“Jerrad!” My wife punched my arm and brought me back to reality.
Here I was, not thirty minutes after giving a Jesus-filled sermon, yelling in anger at one of our congregants. I’m embarrassed to share this story.
It’s also embarrassing to consider how many times I find myself worshipping God one minute, and just moments later, forgetting what he’s done.
In fact, I think God’s people have always had a reputation of forgetting what’s he’s done.
Remember back in the Old Testament when God miraculously rescued the Israelites from slavery and then told them he would take them to a land filled with milk and honey?
The people go nuts. They can’t believe their new reality. Just days ago they were shackled slaves, and now they are free people headed to a new a beautiful land. Their hearts are filled with gratitude and worship…
…for a couple of days. And then they forget.
They forget God’s goodness. His saving power. His miracles. His promises. They forget everything God has done for them. And as a result of their spiritual amnesia, they turn their hearts away from him and start worshipping golden cows instead.
Now, if you were new to the Bible, you’d probably think God should have bailed right here. I mean, he has every right to. Once again he has provided for and rescued his children, and once again they step outside of the way things were meant to be.
God could have bailed. He had every right to leave.
But doesn’t leave; he shows up.
In the midst of their anger and grumbling, God says he wants to dwell among them. He instructs them to build a beautiful ark, where his presence can reside with them as they walk.
Instead of bailing, God shows up. He gets closer.
As you think about your role as a father, would this be true of you too? When your kids disobey or your wife gets upset with you, do you draw closer, or do you pull away?
As we are stumbling our way to spiritual leadership, may we be men who draw closer, who always show up.