The Greater Tragedy

I just don’t want to listen to that song again.

The thought passed through my head after a second person brought up “More Than Anything,” by Natalie Grant.

It’s lyrics read:

Help me want the Healer
More than the healing
Help me want the Savior
More than the saving
Help me want the Giver
More than the giving
Oh help me want You Jesus
More than anything

I could find no fault with the song’s message or melody, but something about it rubbed me the wrong way. A prayer for Olivia’s healing is never far from my lips, and the lyrics prodded some of the most tender places in my heart:

You know more than anyone that my flesh is weak
And You know I’d give anything for a remedy

So often the words we don’t want to hear are the ones that we NEED to hear most.

And I’ll ask a thousand more times to set me free today
But even if You don’t, I pray
Help me want the Healer 
More than the healing

Months later, I am reading about the Exodus–how God used Moses to deliver His people from slavery in Egypt and lead them into the wilderness, headed for the land He had promised would be theirs. It’s a story replete with the miraculous and also with tragedy.

God parted the Red Sea so that Israel could walk between two walls of water on dry land. He guided them with a pillar of cloud by day and fire by night. This, after Israel had seen the wonders that brought about their deliverance from Egypt.

When I place myself in the shoes of people who were witness to such power, it’s hard to understand why the book of Exodus sometimes sounds like a broken tape. God performs a miracle. The people complain. God proves His faithfulness. The people fall away. And … repeat.

Israel sang God’s praises after their Egyptian enemies were drowned at the Red Sea, but days later the people were grumbling against Him when they couldn’t find water.

Bitter, undrinkable water was supernaturally made sweet, and the people marveled. But it wasn’t long before they were murmuring again–this time over a lack of food.

So, God rained down manna, the bread of Heaven, every day for forty years. He brought water from rocks and sent quail in massive numbers. Even clothes and shoes did not wear out. Deuteronomy1:31 says that God carried them “as a man carries his son.” The following verse reveals their response:

“But in spite of this you did not Trust the LORD your God, who went before you on the journey …”–Deuteronomy 1:32

An entire generation of God’s people wandered around in the wilderness for forty years and ultimately failed to receive the promise of God, because they could not–or would not–trust Him. Only Joshua and Caleb believed God and eventually entered the promised land, together with the children of those whose faith had faltered.

The men and women brought out of Egypt never received God’s promise for themselves, and that is tragic. The greater tragedy, though, is that so many of these same men and women never learned to yearn for God’s presence over His power.

Quench our thirst. Feed our hunger. Ease the burden. Smooth the way.

How many times have I prayed for things to be easier or for the answer to come more quickly? So often, I have made an idol of the promise and forgotten the Promise Keeper. Stiff-necked, I have looked only at my great need, not lifting my face to the greatness of God.

But the promise is worth nothing without the presence of the One who gave it.

“The Lord spoke to Moses: ‘Go up from here, you and the people you brought up from the land of Egypt, to the land I promised to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, saying: I will give it to your offspring … Go up to a land flowing with milk and honey. But I will not go up with you because you are a stiff-necked people; otherwise, I might destroy you on the way.’ When the people heard this bad news, they mourned and didn’t put on their jewelry.”–Exodus 33:1, 3

But one man hungered for God more than anything, and his passion for God’s presence changed everything. Moses set up a tent for the purpose of meeting with God. There, The LORD would speak with Moses face to face, just as a man speaks with his friend (Exodus 33:11).” You can hear the devotion in Moses’ words:

“If your presence does not go, don’t make us go up from here (vs. 15)”

The sincerity of Moses’ request changed God’s mind. His presence did go with the people, and the younger generation came into the “land flowing with milk and honey,” possessing the promise of God.

While the great promise of Moses’ time was Canaan land, the great Promise of our time is the Holy Spirit. He is God’s presence in the earth today, the Spirit of Christ living in and working through those who belong to Him.

“This promise belongs to you and to your children and to all who are far off, to all whom the Lord our God will call to Himself.”–Acts 2:39

And hasn’t that been the point all along? That God would gather to Himself people who desire His presence above all else?

My prayer for myself is this:

God, Help me me be like Joshua and Caleb, who believed Your Word, remained faithful through the wilderness and received Your promise. But even more than that, help me be like Moses, who valued Your presence over Your power.

Help me want the Healer
More than the healing
Help me want the Savior
More than the saving
Help me want the Giver
More than the giving
Oh help me want You Jesus
More than anything

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Processed with VSCO with s2 preset

 

 

 

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