Friday, March 21, 2008

Considering the Cost of Leeks

We remember the fish we ate in Egypt at no cost-- also the cucumbers, melons, leeks, onions and garlic. (Num 11:5)

Ahhh…the comforts of slavery; what an inspiring thought. I have this picture of the Israelites demanding Moses take them back through the desert, “re-part” the Red Sea, pass through the waters again (all the while ignoring broken chariots, and horse and Egyptian warrior remains), slogging back to the other side, and running back to Rameses banging on the city gates yelling, “please abuse us again! Take our daughters for your concubines, just please allow us to sup on those wonderful leeks, onions, and garlic. Our breath has been way too fresh of late and our bodies seem under worked!”

It’s almost like some weird Michael Jackson video (to the tune of Beat it!) “Just beat us then feed us! Please come outside and defeat us! We came back and we promise not to fight; it doesn’t matter if we’re wrong or right just beat us, beat us, beat us… then feed us, feed us, feed us!”

I’m reminded of the Guinness Beer cartoon commercials, “Brilliant!”

The modern Christian sojourn has some similarities. I have met so many people in journey that are just wearied by, well the journey. They are tired of walking; they want a ride. They are tired of manna because of their pride. They are just plain tired and are willing to go back into bondage with the devil they knew, than press on to fight the ones they don’t. Jericho lies ahead and they’re not sure they have enough fight left in them to scale those walls. They only see the walls, but not Gods plans to bring them down.

Spiritual exhaustion is brought on by many things: An extended battle with something like an addiction or illness, personal loss of a loved one or job, unrighteous authority, emotional stress, physical pain, or any number of other issues. These brothers and sisters need someone that will come along side them in conjunction with the Holy Spirit to help comfort, heal, and restore. They also need someone to remind them of the cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night, and that manna for a season is still God’s perfect provision.

My wife Alicesun is a remarkable chef. She is truly gifted with an incredible palate and ingenious insightful ingredient incorporation. Last night she decided to try a new fish recipe out on us. Let’s just say it wasn’t the best dish she’s ever served up. At first taste, she spit it out, announced there was cereal in the cabinet and retired to the comforts of the master suite. I, on the other hand, gave thanks and wolfed it down like a crazed grizzly scarfing a salmon. I ate Katie’s portion as well. Whitney muscled hers down like a vulture over road-kill, and Caleb’s portion went to her highness Phoebe. The dish was bland so it just needed some more salt, a squeeze of lemon, and a drizzle of Tabasco, and Voila! - God’s perfect provision.

Manna seemed to have this same bland effect on the Israelites. Depending on the method of preparation, the manna had the sweetness of honey (Ex 16:31), or the savory flavor of olive oil (Num 11:8). What beautiful pictures the Father gives us in His manna. His children still had to gather it first, and then do something with it to prepare it for consumption. This was not a holy welfare program, more like the
WPA. It sustained an entire generation of God’s children, meeting the needs of 600,000 men plus the women and children with them. Still the discipline of the daily bread can descend into mundane morsels and we end up crying out for a meatier mission. In our frustration we lose sight of His goodness and reach back spitefully to sin instead of reaching out to our savior. Then end result may be a sinus infection of quail. To this day I’m afraid to eat it.

"Tell the people: 'Consecrate yourselves in preparation for tomorrow, when you will eat meat. The LORD heard you when you wailed, "If only we had meat to eat! We were better off in Egypt!" Now the LORD will give you meat, and you will eat it. You will not eat it for just one day, or two days, or five, ten or twenty days, but for a whole month-- until it comes out of your nostrils and you loathe it-- because you have rejected the LORD, who is among you, and have wailed before him, saying, "Why did we ever leave Egypt?" (Num 11:18-20)

So the price for wishing for leeks is even pretty high. The good news is Gilgal is on the map – which translated means “wheel” and also “heaven.” That is where the Lord blessed those who continued to rock in obedience and were ready to roll with His plan and purpose in their lives. They had run the race marked before them to that point and now were facing Jericho. God gave them a taste of the promised-land by removing the manna and letting them taste of the produce of Canaan.

The cry for leeks was now gone and the shouts of triumph yet to come. The father will always produce a harvest in your time of need as you continue to journey with Him. Leeks in Egypt will cost you everything, including your inheritance. So if you just get to where you can’t stomach something on the table, grab a bowl of cereal, give thanks and retire to the Master’s Suite. I bet He’ll set you up with some Quail to remind you of the goodness of His grace and that we live by every word that proceeds from His mouth.


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