I came across this quote the other day, about the Israelites wandering around in the desert for 40 years:
Their journey was a journey of liberation. They were being liberated from slavery in Egypt, where they had been dehumanized and exploited, so that their elite Egyptian slave drivers could build their own never-enough system. It was also a journey of discipline. They were learning values on the journey that would form their national character when they finally settled down — so they wouldn’t become either slaves or slave drivers in the future. (Naked Spirituality, Brian McLaren)
That struck me in a profound way, because it describes so well the journey I’ve been on in the last year. I’ve written before about how I’ve been struggling with some health challenges for over ten years. I’ve had people pray over me many times, and I’ve begged and pleaded and cried to God many, many more times myself for a miracle.
A few years ago, I started noticing some small, slow changes, and since then, my health has improved very gradually. Sometimes I would get so impatient. I believed that God could heal me instantly, but it didn’t look as though that was going to be His chosen method, so I tried to be okay with whatever form healing took.
In this last year, things have been changing in ways I never would have imagined. I’ve always struggled with a lot of stress, fear, and anxiety in my life, and a number of different experiences started to open my eyes to the fact that what needed to change, perhaps more than my physical health, was my mental and spiritual health.
God was after my mind and my thoughts. There was much fear in me surrounding my health problems, and I struggled with trying to choose and control what kind of thoughts filled my mind.
Many of my health problems were related to stress, so as God did a new work in my mind, my body followed along.
There is still much room for improvement, but what struck me about the Israelites is this:
If God had brought them straight to the Promised Land, it would have taken 11 days, instead of 40 years. God needed to do a great work in them first.
They weren’t ready for the Promised Land.
Those years wandering around in the desert stripped them of their old identity, and turned them into God’s people.
photo © 2011 , Flickr
If God would have given me my miracle right away, and healed my body in an instant, I would have ended up right back in the same place. Thoughts of fear and anxiety would still have enslaved me, and my body would have continued to respond to that.
He’s taking me around the long way, because He is doing a great work in me. He’s making my mind ready for the miracle of healing that is slowly taking over my body.
I also need to be stripped of my old identity.
Oh, how wonderful that He loves us too much to leave us the way we are! He takes us on whatever path we need the most, and gets us to the Promised Land in the perfect way, at the perfect time.
I still have so much to learn, and I continue to hope for more healing in my life, both mental and physical, but I think I’m starting to enjoy the journey. I’m at peace with the fact that there’s some scenery I need to see first, as we go around the long way.
And I don’t believe it’s punishment or hardship to need to go the long way. I think it’s just life. If I can accept that, and if I can soak in each step of this process, there can be joy in God’s timing, instead of impatience.
He’ll get me there, in His perfect timing.
Are you waiting for a miracle? How is God transforming you, as you wait?