If God has made provision for our every need, why do we hang on to our pain? Why do we limp around all the while trying to “manage” our lives rather than step into God’s best for us? Managing may be a great word if you’re a supervisor, but loses its luster when applied to the wounds of the heart.
Some of us have been broken for so long that we’ve grown accustomed to that familiar ache. There are no surprises- we usually get what we expect out of life: disappointment, betrayal and disillusionment. It almost seems easier to live with our brokenness than do the work necessary to cross over into our inheritance of freedom. So, we continue to manage our pain and manipulate our circumstances in order to survive another day.
The Israelites had 400 years of practice at being slaves. They also learned to survive. They adapted to their captivity so well that even after God breaks them out of Egypt, they want to go back to what is familiar when things get hard. You’d certainly think a people who had witnessed the supernatural intervention and provision of God would be grateful. It says in Ex. 14:31, “the Israelites SAW the great power the Lord displayed against the Egyptians, the people feared the Lord and put their trust in Him…” And yet, even after God parts the Red Sea so they can escape their pursuers, their voices rise up in a symphony of complaining only 45 days into the journey. “Oh, if we had only died by the Lord’s hand in Egypt, for there we sat around pots of meat and ate all the food we wanted!” And again in the next chapter, “Why have you brought us up out of Egypt, to kill us and our children from thirst?”
Let me give you one more example. Moses reads God’s commands to the people. They quickly respond saying they will do everything the Lord told them to do! Moses then is called up to the mountain of the Lord so that he could receive the tablets of stone. There on the mountain in the burning presence of God’s glory, he also receives the blueprints for the Tabernacle and instructions for worship. This was a 40 day period. Meanwhile down below, the children were growing restless and fear causes them to revert back to their “bondage behavior.” You know the story well. Ex. 32:1-“Come let us make a god that shall go before us…” And after they made a golden god, they said, “This is your god O Israel, that brought you out of the land of Egypt!” Oh my…don’t you see? They were finally free from slavery, but there was never any transformation. They still carried a victim language in their hearts and a bondage mentality in their minds. They “settled” for the wilderness when God wanted to give them the Promised Land!
You have to understand it wasn’t just about breaking out of Egypt! It was also about the journey that would lead them into their inheritance. That journey through the wilderness was the process that would enable them to walk into their destiny as God’s chosen people.
The issue wasn’t that the Israelites saw the miraculous hand of God and returned to idol worship, which was the behavior they learned in Egypt. Instead, after they saw and experienced the miraculous, it never led them into an intimate encounter with God Himself. This is the issue for relationship has always been God’s intention. In Ex. 19:10-11, God tells them to consecrate themselves because He will come down from Mt Sinai in the sight of all the people. But, they were afraid to hear God speak, so they lived their relationship with God through Moses.
What about us? What are we settling for? Sometimes we have the mindset that it’s just too hard to get healed and stay free; it takes too long and it costs us too much time and energy! So we continue to just survive day after day, locked in our bondage behavior with crisis and pain as our task masters. You see, managing isn’t walking in victory- it isn’t overcoming. It is simply tolerating our circumstances and the present condition of our heart. It is settling for less than our “Promised Land” by accepting the very thing we should be fighting against!
God told the Israelites He would make all their enemies turn and run! He said not to make a covenant with them–do not cut any deal or form an agreement with them. Basically He says, “Don’t align yourself with those things I oppose.” Don’t we, in a subtle way, form an alliance with our pain, even our sicknesses when we manage them? In a sense, we give our pain permission to remain by aligning ourselves with it.
God was very specific with the Israelites. He knew the pagan influences they would encounter. He knew the temptations they would face. He looked ahead and saw the traps that could trip them up. Knowing all this, He instructed them to not intermarry or make covenants, treaties or alliances of any kind with the people of the land. His way was total destruction of their enemies so they wouldn’t become a snare later on. Likewise, when we allow those unresolved areas to remain in our hearts, we are in grave danger of those areas rising up to stake a claim in our lives! Left in place, they will influence and manipulate our thinking, our actions, as well as our responses to those around us.
Ask yourself this question: Has God really created me to be depressed, lonely and bitter? Is this who I am in Christ? I’m not saying it’s as simple as choosing not to allow our pain and past to have any control over our life. I know the hard work involved! Making a choice is just the first step. We come to Jesus, we give Him our hurts, we give Him our past experiences and yes, we even relinquish our current hang ups. We allow Him to enter into those places through a great exchange: His life for ours. Then after that, it’s imperative to establish the healing God imparts, so we can occupy our new found freedom. Recently God taught me a valuable lesson around physical healing that can easily be applied to matters of the heart.
I had been sick and went to my church to be prayed for. My sinuses were so plugged I couldn’t even breathe through my nose. While being prayed for, I suddenly began to breathe. I had a sense that the “back” of this illness was broken, and I would begin to recover. However, when I went back home, instead of establishing the healing God was doing in my body, I gave in to how I felt. I lived underneath the circumstances all week by resigning myself to feeling tired, sick and run down. As I sought the Lord around this, He spoke into my heart these words, “Debbie, I provided the breakthough you needed to recover and then entrusted you with the process of establishing what I promised you.”
Well there you have it! You see, breakthough is not just about knocking something down, but also building something else up. Breakthrough is meant to bring enlargement; it is a door to the next place God intends for us to occupy. If we fail to occupy this place by establishing what God has done, we take a chance of forfeiting our place of dominion in this area.
For example, when our military troops break through enemy lines, they don’t just lay down their weapons and live a peaceful life. First, they have to “clear out” the enemy and then establish their presence in the land. In the same way, if we don’t establish what God has done for us, the enemy will re-establish what we have broken out of. He does this through our feelings and the mindsets that have not yet been transformed by deceiving us into believing that nothing happened! It is not any different than a garden. If you clear a field of weeds and do not plant something, those weeds will come back and take over!
God has placed before us a radical choice. Will you choose life? Will you allow God to pry open your clenched fist so He can remove the handicap of your heart?
In December’s issue I will write more on what that establishment looks like and the necessity for stamina and endurance so we can finish strong!