I’ve got this great idea for a book on ten steps to understanding God’s guidance but, that’s right, I can only come up with nine of them. When it comes to His ways, I’m not quite there. I’m often left rubbing my hand on the mirror in which I can see only darkly (1 Corinthians 13:12), hoping I might somehow be able to buff it up with enough elbow grease.
But sometimes our best efforts simply won’t be enough. We can’t always brings things into focus no matter how much we screw up our eyes. When we’re stuck like this, it’s not about straining to see better, so much as training to see differently.
Take the Israelites, after fleeing Egypt. In Exodus 16 we see how what began with high fives and hallelujahs as they watched the Red Sea close behind them and on their pursuers soon degenerates into a grumble-fest. Less than six weeks after witnessing an amazing miracle of deliverance, they are complaining to Moses and remembering how great they’d had it back in Egypt.
You know, the slavery, and the making more bricks with less straw, and the infanticide, and all that. Yeah, good times. Funny how a bit of present inconvenience can impair our rear vision. Because we can’t see what’s ahead, we can starting look back with cloudy eyes, if we are not careful. Hazy hindsight.
It’s interesting to note, too, that in our discomfort we can be quick to criticize others. We need to find a target for our sense of helplessness, so we play the blame game, just as the Israelites griped at Moses and Aaron.
To be honest, I can easily find myself right there with the mumblers and grumblers. I know what it’s like to feel that maybe something’s gone wrong up in heaven and God is busy on other projects. As you look around, all you can spy is desert: dry, dusty, featureless. It’s hot, it’s inhospitable, and all you can see in any direction is more of the same.
But I’m struck by what happened as the Israelites finished moping before Moses and Aaron. As the brothers were telling the people that manna and quails were on the way, the Israelites “looked toward the desert, and there was the glory of the Lord…” (Exodus 16:10).
Suddenly, they saw things differently. Where once there had been only sand, sand, and more sand, emptiness and wilderness, now there was God’s glory.
If you’re staring at dunes right now, may God give you fresh eyes to catch a glimpse of Him that will encourage you to keep going forward, rather than hankering after the past.