The Wilderness Walk–Part 1


(Originally posted 8/3/2023)


Do you ever catch yourself complaining in your heart, even though God has been SO GOOD to you and your loved ones? I need to continually push back against that tendency. The reason I’m even AWARE of it in myself is that I often overreact inwardly to others when they gripe. So it causes a double check on my own heart to see what’s in THERE….

Good Company?

It’s oddly both comforting and disconcerting at the same time, that those of us with that inclination are not the only ones; His chosen ones often did the same. Problem is, the Lord did not react positively to such outward grievances as His people began their trek through the wilderness on the way to the Promised Land.

In Exodus (chapters 16 and 17), there are accounts of the Israelites grumbling along the way, and the LORD providing for their needs graciously and miraculously in response (Manna, Quail, Water from the Rock).

Carrying On

In the book of Numbers, there are again repeated accounts of the people grumbling and complaining, and the LORD’s reaction was often swift and many times deadly.

In chapter 11 verse 1, they complained about their hardships. In verse 4, they were tired of only eating Manna (!), and wanted meat. In verse 20, the LORD quotes the people as having said “Why did we ever leave Egypt?”

In chapter 12, Moses’ sister and brother (Miriam and Aaron) spoke against Moses because of his wife.

In chapter 13, the LORD had Moses send out twelve spies to see the Promised Land and bring back a report. The land was exceptionally fertile and wonderful. However, it was inhabited by people who were very intimidating. Ten of the twelve came back with discouraging, fearful reports, focused on the challenges ahead. Two (Caleb and Joshua) came back with a hopeful report, knowing that God was with them and would help them overcome.

In chapter 14 (due to those bad reports above), the people wept and grumbled against Moses and Aaron.

In chapter 16, Korah, Dathan and Abiram rose up with many well-known community leaders, against Moses and Aaron.

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In chapter 20, the people quarreled with Moses because they didn’t have enough water to drink.

Each of these various complaining episodes inspired a reaction from the LORD, whether it be fire from heaven, plagues, leprosy, the earth swallowing up the offenders, or them not being allowed to later enter the Promised Land. After the many miracles He had done in order to provide for them, He didn’t seem too appreciative of their continual complaining.

Walking in the Way

The walk of the Israelites so often symbolizes the Christian walk. Deliverance from Egypt, (the Passover and crossing over the Red Sea) is so much like our original salvation, when we go from death to life as we are born again, dying to our old life (in baptism) and going forward in Jesus’ new Life.

The Promised Land is the ultimate goal and our joy, knowing that in the end, we will be with Him forever.

In the time in-between, in other words, our lives right now, it can sometimes FEEL like the wilderness. We have a choice how to look at it all. Has He led us out of our past life into a desolate place? Do we want to go back to life before Christ? (Check out the amazing book of Hebrews to see the Lord’s words about THAT inclination. Hint–NOT something you want to do!)

Perhaps we look forward to that Promised Land, but having spied out the territory, we realize there are giants in the land who are too big for us to face. Are we fearful and intimidated?

Did the Lord ever promise us that our walk would be EASY? If you can find that verse, send it my way. Surely He said our burden would be light (but that’s due to us being in the yoke WITH HIM!)

This life in Christ is preparing us for the other side. He is building us up and refining us in and through the fires and challenges.

I am so glad that Jesus has paid the price for my sins, because my own tendencies would likely keep me from reaching the other side! If He were to listen to my complaining heart and those of my loved ones, likely there would be ONE person in heaven (Himself). Hallelujah, He has paid the debt for me (us), and doesn’t just come down with fire from heaven to wipe us out when we have a bad attitude.

At the same time, perhaps we can have a higher attitude, nonetheless, and we can see with the eyes of Caleb and Joshua. Yes, there are giants to conquer on the way to that Land…. There is also the beautiful place to which we are headed, and there is One Who is WITH US along the way and will actually do the conquering, protecting AND the delivering!

Look up, oh Child of the King! He is with us. Dear Lord, please help me appreciate the incredible Life You have given me/us, the incredible Promise at the End of the Age, and Your amazing presence along the way. Take away the complaints, and replace it with jaw-dropping awe at Your goodness, provision and kindness toward us, even when we’re in the valley.

In Jesus’ name, and by His amazing grace,

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