Kelly and I are losing weight, again. If you’re like me, as soon as you determine to eat healthier and exercise more, you immediately begin to crave a frappuccino and bismarck donut (my personal favorites) and a nap by the pool. Completely counterproductive to the pool-worthy body I’d like to achieve.
I have other cravings that often get in the way of what I need in order to become who I want to be. They’re unrealistic, but I get my heart set on them just the same. I crave comfort, acceptance, praise, perfection, days without interruption, sunshine without wind.
I recently read a phrase in the Bible that jumped out at me:
“In the desert they gave in to their craving.” Psalm 106:14, NIV
The Israelites craved the food and comforts of Egypt (even though slavery wasn’t comfortable), the familiar (they’d never been anywhere else), the sensual orgies of false worship (even though it ended in hangovers and heartache). They wanted to take the fast and easy route – back to Egypt!
The first question that came to my mind was, “Why did God lead them through the desert knowing that it would be so difficult. He was aware of the temptations and hardships they’d have to face. Why didn’t He make it easier for them so they wouldn’t give up?
God answers these questions in other passages of the Bible:
1 1. The only route from Egypt to the Promised Land was through the desert.
2 2. After 430 years of slavery in a land steeped in idol worship, most of the Israelites didn’t even know who God was. They needed to be taught about their God.
3 3. God wanted to show them His love, His power, His ability to provide and protect.
4 4. They needed to become a unified nation, instead of a ragtag group of slaves. Facing hardship together forced them to pull together.
5 5. He was protecting them from war until they were a cohesive group, leaders had emerged, and they had weapons and skills to use them.
In our own desert times we ask God why, and His answers are much the same. He says to us:
1 1. The only way to go from slavery to sin to your home in heaven, child, is through the desert times. I will give you refreshment, companionship, laughter, and joy, but until you’re home with me, you will also have to go through pain, need, death, and the unknowns of desert life.
2 2. I want you to know me, my dearest one, and as soon as I heard your cry for help I came to rescue. I want you to know me; let me cleanse your mind and heart of all the lies you’ve believed and see me for who I AM.
3 3. I want to show you my love, my power, my ability to provide for and protect you better than any god you have known. The desert helps you learn to trust me.
4 4. The Church is your people; you need them and they need you. When you praise together, pray together, grieve together, and travel this life together, you will become the unified group I desire. That is my plan - the Church loving me, loving each other, and loving the world into my arms.
5 5. When you first gave your heart to me, did you notice that you had a lot to learn? You weren’t ready to do battle yet. The desert is the place to learn – read my Word and learn how to pray (your spiritual weapons); get to know my Son and be empowered by my Spirit. I will not send you into battle without equipping you.
There’s an interesting phenomena that happens when you starve the harmful cravings and feed the good ones. You begin to crave what’s good for you. Since dedicating ourselves to healthful eating, I’m starting to desire raspberries, peas, carrots, zucchini, and potatoes from the garden more than heavy fatty foods. I feel so much better when I eat them. And I see progress toward my goal.
As I head for my home in heaven with the Lord, I know the same is true in my spirit. The more I starve the cravings for the comfortable, the easy, the quick fix and feed my cravings for all God has for me, the more I will yearn for and trust in God. I hope you will crave Him too.