By Howard Rich ~
I have sometimes wondered how the Israelites could experience God’s provision and protection, in a visible way during the Exodus, then immediately turn away to mold an idol and worship it while Moses was on the mountain receiving God’s instructions for their future as His people (Exodus 32). I mean, they were undeniably walking in God’s provision every day, He was there with them all the time in the cloud and pillar of fire, providing manna and water; He was sustaining them every moment (Exodus 13). Yet, amazingly, the Hebrews rebelled and looked to their own hands for deliverance.
When I read passages where God is clearly visible to His people, but they reject Him, I think “I would never do that.” Surely, if I could see God with my eyes and participate in the miracles found in Scripture, I would never look for my care in any other place. Then, I realize I am no different than all the other people who experience grace on one day and wake up the next to forget the wonders of a God who sustains the universe.
God had claimed the Hebrews as His own, and He had chosen to dwell with them, but somehow, this was not enough for them. As I wonder how the Hebrews of the Exodus could have turned away from God so quickly, I am indirectly condemning myself. The stories of God’s provision, care, and presence among His people, and humanity’s consistent rejection of Him help me realize how difficult it is to keep my eyes and desire on the Creator instead of the creation.
How can I forget the care, love, provision, grace, and mercy granted to me? I can only conclude that I think I am in control; somehow, I imagine I can make my way through this life under my own strength. How quickly I forget Deuteronomy 10:14, “To the Lord our God belong the heavens, even the highest heavens, the earth and everything in it.”
When I begin to think I need to power up and make something happen, that I need to dig deep within myself and make the next sale, I need to be reminded “wealth and honor come from” God; He is “the ruler of all things,” and it is through Him that I have any abilities at all (1 Chron. 29:12).
It is easy to see God’s provision when I am up against the wall in some crisis asking Him to help me out. What amazes me though is how soon I go back to relying on my own abilities once that crisis is over; for some reason I think I can handle what comes next because I am somehow more experienced or better prepared because of the last issue I went through.
I do not have a cloud or pillar of fire visibly guiding me, but I do have the Holy Spirit and assurance that God holds the universe in His hand. Sadly, I am not much different from the Israelites in the desert. It is really silly of me to think I can run my life, and my little world, better than He can. If I am going to live like the faithful steward God calls His people to be, then I have to work hard at seeing His provision on a daily basis. Relinquishing the illusion that I control my life and possessions is a battle that rages in me every day. But, when I can honestly recognize every last bit of my life belongs to Him and I live due to His grace, I can get my eyes off myself and put my attention onto stewarding for Him.
Howard Rich is the President of Steward Development Group, a leadership training and coaching firm established to help business professionals discover the freedom of generosity and stewardship. He also facilitates a CLA Leader2Leader group in the Memphis Metro Area. To learn more about Howard’s Leader2Leader groups, email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Christian Leadership Alliance has launched a yearlong leadership experience to equip leaders for operational excellence – it’s called Outcomes365. Designed to activate, accelerate and help you achieve greater personal and professional impact, you can enroll at any time. Learn more at www.Leadership.Bible.