Sep 21, 2020
Join us as we explore God’s ancient wisdom and apply it to our modern lives. His word is as current and relevant today as it was when he inspired its authors more than two and a half millennia ago. The websites where you can reach us are alittlewalkwithgod.com, richardagee.com, or saf.church.
I hope you will join us every week and be sure to let us know how you enjoy the podcast and let others know about it, too. Thanks for listening.
Thanks for joining me today for "A Little Walk with God." I'm your host Richard Agee.
About five years ago, I thought extending our porch into a patio and covering it with a cedar pergola a great idea. Although I hadn't meant to start the project in the middle of July in San Antonio, my brother-in-law came to visit and cut down a couple of trees that were in the way of the patio my wife and I envisioned someday. Then he built a frame for the concrete.
Only one problem. He left. The form wasn't strong enough to hold the fill dirt and ten yards of concrete needed, and it was still July in San Antonio.
For anyone who hasn't been to San Antonio in July, let me share that July and August are our hottest months, with most of those days in triple digits. Unlike West Texas, San Antonio humidity stays relatively high compared to all but the east and coastal regions. We don't have that much rain but have many streams and rivers that converge in the city to keep the humidity enough to make outside feel like a sauna.
So, at the end of July and through August, I started extending the patio and building my cedar pergola. After shoveling twenty yards of fill (that's four dump trucks of dirt and gravel) into the forms I had to rebuild, I did get smart and hired experts to pour the concrete and set the twelve-foot tall, six-inch thick cedar posts in place that would support the pergola. What I wasn't smart enough to do was hire someone to build the rest of it.
Because I wanted to get it done and out of the way and most of my friends worked full-time jobs, I figured I could tackle the job on my own. It sounded simple enough. Attach the frame to the house and the upright posts embedded in the porch, then attach the slats on the frame, and it's done. Only I didn't consider the weight of those six by two by twelve- and fourteen-foot pieces of cedar. I didn't think about what a chore it was to lift them into position in the first place, then hold them there steady enough to attach them to the frame.
I'm not sure how many times I screamed out to myself, "Why did I start this? This is stupid! I'm going to kill myself or at least break something trying to put this stupid thing together, and it's so hot out here, no one will use it anyway! What was wrong with the way it was in the first place?"
My wife, Carole, would come out occasionally and encourage me, telling me what a good job I was doing. Maybe I should wait and call someone to help. But I ignored her advice, and I carried on, grumbling all the while.
I started sounding a lot like the Israelites in Exodus. We hear them complaining to Moses and Aaron again in chapter 16:
2 There in the desert they all complained to Moses and Aaron 3 and said to them, "We wish that the Lord had killed us in Egypt. There we could at least sit down and eat meat and as much other food as we wanted. But you have brought us out into this desert to starve us all to death."
4 The Lord said to Moses, "Now I am going to cause food to rain down from the sky for all of you. The people must go out every day and gather enough for that day. In this way I can test them to find out if they will follow my instructions. 5 On the sixth day they are to bring in twice as much as usual and prepare it."
6 So Moses and Aaron said to all the Israelites, "This evening you will know that it was the Lord who brought you out of Egypt. 7 In the morning you will see the dazzling light of the Lord's presence. He has heard your complaints against him—yes, against him, because we are only carrying out his instructions." 8 Then Moses said, "It is the Lord who will give you meat to eat in the evening and as much bread as you want in the morning, because he has heard how much you have complained against him. When you complain against us, you are really complaining against the Lord."
9 Moses said to Aaron, "Tell the whole community to come and stand before the Lord, because he has heard their complaints." 10 As Aaron spoke to the whole community, they turned toward the desert, and suddenly the dazzling light of the Lord appeared in a cloud. (Exodus 16:2-10 GNT)
The Israelites met Moses and Aaron and complained about everything. No water, no meat, no bread, no house, no bed. You name it, they complained about it. Moses led them out of slavery, but that wasn't enough. They wanted him to provide all their needs. Give me, give me, give me. And if you don't, expect to hear about it.
Ouch. That gets too close to home for too many of us when we think about how we approach God. Hey, God, give me the job I want. Hey, God, fix my finances after I've ruined them with my poor money management. Hey, God, heal me after I've failed to do the things that I should have done to take care of my body. Hey, God, do something with that boss that doesn't seem to like me. Hey, God,…
We come to him with our complaints, our want list, our petitions of what we expect him to do for us, without thinking about who we're talking to. Could you imagine walking up to the President and saying those things? Well, maybe in this country, since we failed to teach each other to respect authority over the last few generations. But if you did that in North Korea or Russia or China or most other countries around the world, you would at least find yourself in prison if not six feet underground in your permanent resting place.
But we do that with the maker of the universe and think nothing of it because we forget who he is. We don't stop to consider the creator of all things allows us into his presence, and cares enough about us to hear our prayers and act on them. Sometimes he doesn't answer the way we would like, but he answers in the way that best fulfills his plans. And that is always best for us in the end, too. We may not see it now. We may not see it in this life, but I can assure you that God has our best in mind when he answers our prayers. We just need to consider who we ask those questions when we pray. It would make a huge difference in how we pray, I think.
So what happened to the complaining Israelites?
11 The Lord said to Moses, 12 "I have heard the complaints of the Israelites. Tell them that at twilight they will have meat to eat, and in the morning they will have all the bread they want. Then they will know that I, the Lord, am their God." (Exodus 16:11-12 GNT)
God answered their prayer. In fact, he answered it the way they asked, which is sometimes dangerous. God gave them quail that night for supper. And the next night. And the next night. And the next night. Until it was coming through their teeth is how later verses describe it. If you think about that a minute, the only way quail comes back through your teeth is in liquid form, already chewed and mostly digested. I'll let you figure out how that quail returned through their teeth, then. Exodus tells us many died with the quail between their teeth.
The morning after God answered their prayers; they received manna for the first time. They could use it in a lot of different ways. They could make bread with it. They could boil it and make a kind of mush. They could mold it and roast it, I guess, but it all tasted like manna. It looked like coriander seed and tasted like honey. I don't know about you, but after a couple of tablespoons of honey, I'm done. The overwhelmingly sweet taste means I can't handle much more than that. But the Israelites got to enjoy manna from heaven every day, at every meal, for the next forty years.
Sometimes it's better to let God figure out what's best for us instead of telling him what we need, don't you think? You might just get what you asked for like the Israelites did. God provided, just like they asked. Many died eating the quail, and I'm sure many would like to die on a steady diet of manna. I wonder what kind of cookbook was passed to the next generation after eating manna for forty years.
In case you're interested, the pergola turned out well. Days of hard work and fewer complaints let me finish, and we get to enjoy the extended patio during the months with an "R" in them. The rest are still too hot to handle until just before the sun comes up.
You can find me at richardagee.com. I also invite you to join us at San Antonio First Church of the Nazarene on West Avenue in San Antonio to hear more Bible-based teaching. You can find out more about my church at SAF.church. Thanks for listening. If you enjoyed it, tell a friend. If you didn't, send me an email and let me know how better to reach out to those around you. Until next week, may God richly bless you as you venture into His story each day.
Scriptures marked GNT are taken from the Good News Translation®: Scriptures taken from the Good News Translation® (Today's English Version, Second Edition) Copyright © 1992 American Bible Society. All rights reserved.