Saturday, November 22, 2008

His Ways

Some of you will disagree with my politics, but after the election I couldn't stop wondering how the result could possibly be good for America. While I sincerely believe our President-elect has the skills to lead, I have concerns about fiscal issues, defense and foreign policy issues, and most definitely social issues. I was bewildered that a man with quite a liberal viewpoint in each of these areas, and with an opportunity to influence the Supreme Court for many years to come, could possibly be the best choice for our country. I grappled with the fact that in my head I knew that God controls Kings and Kingdoms, and that His will would be accomplished. I just couldn't see how.

The good news...God is teaching me to trust.

Recently in my quiet time, I was reading in Numbers 21. To summarize the portion I read, it is part of the narrative that describes the period when Moses was leading Israel through the wilderness, prior to entering the promised land. A tactical change was made to their plans, and the Lord led them on a more circuitous route. I guess they had had just about enough, because they at once began to complain and rail against God and Moses. And for good measure, they threw in complaints about the lack of water and the "miserable food" (guess they didn't see manna as a blessing!). As a result, God sent poisonous snakes among them. The were biting the Israelites, causing a number of them to die. This apparently brought them to their senses, because they came to Moses, admitted their sin, and begged him to pray to the Lord and ask Him to take the snakes away. So Moses prayed.

Now here's my solution if I had been God: I've made my point, Israel has learned its lesson, so now I'll just take the snakes away. Simple. End of problem.

God didn't do that. He told Moses to make a snake and put it up on a pole. He was to tell the Israelites that whoever got bitten by a real snake could look up at the fake snake, and that would keep them from dying. OK, now that's just plain weird on several levels. First, God doesn't really go for the whole "graven image" thing. Yet He told Moses to make a snake, which Moses made out of bronze. It just seems that looking up at the bronze snake is somehow ascribing some power to it, when God has all the power. As I was reading, it just didn't seem to jive with what I would have expected God to do. I thought He'd just vaporize the snakes. I'm telling you, I really struggled with this. As I continued to dig into the passage and started reading some commentaries, God intervened.

Yes, God could have easily made the snakes disappear. But He knew that the real problem wasn't the snakes. It was the lack of trust in God by the Israelites that had to be dealt with. If God had simply removed the snakes, Israel would have been happy, and I'm sure they would have worshipped and praised God over it. But their praise would have been for something God did, and not for who He was. The trust problem would have remained, and probably before very long would have reared its head again. God's solution to the snake problem required that any Israelite who got a snake bite had to look up...the look of faith. As strange as it must have sounded to them that if they looked up at the bronze snake they would live, they HAD to trust God that this would work, or they would die from the snakebite. Not only was He answering Moses' prayer to get rid of the snake problem, but He was accomplishing His will by re-teaching Isreal to place its unswerving trust in Him.

Believe me, it is still hard for me to understand why God allowed our recent election results. But through this passage, God revealed to me that my disappointment and discouragement were nothing more than a lack of faith in Him to accomplish His will. I have to say that it is very hard for me to see, with my sin-hindered eyes, how God's will is to be accomplished in our country. The election result seems a very strange way for God to further His kingdom on earth. But now I can believe with some conviction (and a dose of humility), that God's ways are not my ways, and He will advance His purposes in His own ways and in His perfect time.

I have been set free to honor and pray for our new leaders, as God desires.

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