The Lord needs people to fight for him. He needs skilled workers. He needs people who are willing to fight the good fight, lead the lost to salvation, give everything they have to provide for the less fortunate, the hurting, the hateful, the people who don’t understand why God would need to send his son to die on a cross for them. He needs his followers to be able to endure the hardship of living a life on earth without wanting to rebel against him or hurt him at every difficult impasse.
If we take a look at the history of the Israelites, we will see an infant to toddler process. The Israelites were slaves to the Egyptians. That doesn’t sound too great–slaves. However, as slaves–the type of slaves they were–the Israelites didn’t have to worry about providing for themselves. Their shelter, food and water were taken care of by a rich government. They were given everything they needed to live, just like an infant.
For generations, the Israelites depended on the Egyptians like newborn babies. Therefore, their people–their culture–didn’t possess the wisdom, the knowledge or the mental strength to go out and compete in a free society–where reward and even food are not guaranteed. Then, God freed them from being slaves. Freedom rung, and, at last, their futures were bright with dreams, goals and endless possibilities. But those things came with a price. Those things came with a harsh world–a world without a mommy and daddy to feed them when they cried–and, not only that, their first environment to launch their new lives in was a desert. A big, Arabian desert. Not many environments are harsher than a desert. But that’s where they started–all the while severely lacking in discipline–hence the toddler stage.
Why did the Lord do this? Because, not only did he want them to acquire the discipline that they needed to find independence in themselves, but, most importantly he wanted them to trust him to help them get through it. God needed his people to trust that he was alive and walking with them in their everyday lives whether they felt his presence or not. And what better of a place to learn how to trust God than a place where natural resources are at a minimum? No water, no food, no entertainment.
Love is all they had in that desert, but love is truest in the midst of misery.
The Lord has his children walk through the desert because it’s easy to say I love you when we are surrounded by abundant resources. When all resources are gone, when life gets hard, really hard, pressed with uncertainty, is it so easy to say I love you? Can we still tell the Lord we love him in the middle of what feels like treachery?
As we go through the desert, my friends, let’s remember the Israelites. It’s tough in the desert, and what’s tougher is that God has the power to make everything easier, but he doesn’t despite our prayers. Why? How are we going to love the unlovable–the lost, the angry, the defiled, the people who don’t know what love is, the people who use us, take advantage of us, hurt us–if we can’t even love God when times are tough, fully knowing that he can and will get us through it if we only choose to stay with him?
Going through the dry, nasty, lifeless desert the best we can without complaining, without hating, without wanting to quit, without rebelling against God is what we need to focus on. In other words, we need to focus on what love is and forget about selfish gratification.
Remember that God expects us to live on this earth because that’s where the people who need him the most live. And to get those lost people out of this earth and into his kingdom, he needs champions. He needs strong men and women who can endure the misery of the desert, come out as loving people, and begin to build a country. Just like the Israelites did. They got out of the desert and then began building a country from scratch. So, please, as the Lord will tell you, “Be strong and do the work” (1 Chronicles 28:10).