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God’s Thoughts to Me

Then Aaron took the gold, melted it down, and molded it into the shape of a calf. When the people saw it, they exclaimed, “O Israel, these are the gods who brought you out of the land of Egypt!” (Exodus 32:4, NLT).

Egyptian Gold

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The saying goes that it took the Israelites only a few days to leave Egypt, but they had to wander the desert for 40 years before God finished uprooting all the stubborn roots of Egypt from their hearts.

The ancient Egyptians had 8700 gods and after living in Egypt for 430 years, we can just imagine how much they have been influenced by the Egyptians and their useless religious ways.

It is therefore no big surprise when they wanted to revert back to the familiarity of a god they could see when they felt lost in the desert. They longed for the security of the familiar streets of hell they knew so well!

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We are all well acquainted with the story of how the Israelites became impatient with Moses for staying too long on Mount Sinai. They pestered Aaron until he built them a golden calf from the golden earrings they brought from Egypt.

I used to shake my head in exasperation and disgust at the stupidly of these people, while silently patting myself on the shoulder, believing I would never be so shortsighted and foolish!

How could they think for a moment that their golden-earrings-turned-golden-calf was able to lead them out of Egypt? Preposterous, to say the least!!

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But our Pappa knows me best and showed me how I used to wander in my own desert for a long, long time. He showed me all the mountains I loved trekking around numerous times before He could lead me further.

He opened my eyes to see how often I cried for the fleshpots of Egypt when the going got tough and the tough seemed to have no plans to get going!

He showed me the many times I saw the wonderful, luscious grapes of Canaan in my mind’s eye, but turned back. It took Him quite a while to usher me across my Jordan into Canaan … into the life of our Lord Jesus.

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Even though I have been a member of a church all my life, I still didn’t know Jesus. My heart was empty, starving and yearning to know this strange God. I needed to experience His love which was not much more than a mystery to me at that stage.

One day, out of sheer frustration, I took my Bible and read that wonderful verse, “All that the Father gives me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will by no means cast out” (John 6:37).

As I used to battle rejection issues most of my life, my heart rejoiced when I saw the words about not being cast out!! Glorious light and joy flooded the darkness and despair of my heart.

I realized that although I have been a diligent church member for many years, I have never gone to Jesus personally.

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I could only fall to my knees and cry out to Him that I was coming to Him and Him alone. I was in awe of this Jesus who didn’t speak the only language I knew so well: rejection!

I thanked Him for the assurance that I would never be sent away like a dog with its tail between its legs, when being rejected was about the only language I knew!

That was my Red Sea moment! But little did I realize that this was only the beginning of my journey to Canaan. I had my own treasure chest filled with lots of Egyptian gold and silver and a heart overgrown with the weeds of this world.

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I didn’t take long for me to realize that the love, joy and peace I heard of so often, were still very absent from my heart and my eyes started lusting after the familiarity of Egypt!

Very soon I forgot my days of slavery and all the tears I cried when I sat down at the rivers of Babylon!

Very soon I complained about my monotonous diet of manna and I longed for the fleshpots of Egypt! How I missed the false security of belonging to a religious church, of finding my worth in a set of theological doctrines, of not thinking for myself and just gobbling up everything that was dished up onto my religious plate!

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How I missed that wonderful gooey feeling of singing the beautiful gospel songs on the great rhythmic beat of drums. I soon forgot how I cried out to Pappa when I was a slave in Egypt.

But, I knew there had to be more to life than the empty futile striving, forever trying to be good enough to be loved. I was tired of empty rote practices of piety.

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I was tired of being told to cry when the religious elite played funeral songs and to dance when they dished up wedding songs! (Matthew 11:17).

Like Abraham who trekked into the unfamiliar, I also set my face like flint and travelled into the unknown, never alone, for the Rock of All Ages was and always will be my constant companion!

Much love and sweet blessings.

Mia

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Vegetables vs Vines

 

God’s Thoughts to Me

Some time later there was a vineyard belonging to Naboth the Jezreelite. The vineyard was in Jezreel, close to the palace of Ahab, king of Samaria. Ahab said to Naboth, “Let me have your vineyard to use for a vegetable garden, since it is close to my palace. In exchange I will give you a better vineyard or, if you prefer, I will pay you whatever it is worth.” ( 1 Kings 21:1-2, NIV)

The Hidden Story of Naboth’s Vineyard

I am a thinker. Actually I think a lot; deep and investigative, always searching for a story, the story behind the story and a few hidden ones in between! When I quite accidentally stumbled upon the meaning of the people’s names in the tale of Naboth’s vineyard, my story catching radar immediately tuned to the frequency of drama, murder, suspense and intrigue. I sensed a spiritual drama buried deep in the ground of Naboth’s vineyard.

Since we are all familiar with this story, allow me to to set the scene and introduce the cast:

1. Look at Naboth through our heavenly Pappa’s eyes! His name means “fruitful”.
2. Jezreel is the handywork of the divine Gardener for it means “The planting of the Lord.”
3. Ahab is derived from the Hebrew word “Aheb”. It is a masculine word meaning “lovers”.
4. Jezebel literally means, “Where is the prince?”, the prince, in this instance, being Baal.
It was the custom of the Baal worshippers to chant this prayer whenever they perceived him to have taken an extended winter vacation to the underworld, hoping to encourage him to return speedily with spring and new vegetation.
5. The elders and nobles represent the law-observers of the old covenant; man’s efforts to win God’s favor and blessings.

Ahab was a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways. (James 1:8). I find it meaningful that his palace and Naboth’s vineyard were situated very close to one another. He was a religious man, wavering between his divided loyalties to Jezebel’s Baal worship and the religion of his ancestors. Ahab was an unfulfilled man and looking from the palace window at Naboth’s fruitful vineyard, made him greedy. Or, perhaps he realized the emptiness and futility of his own life when he saw the fruitful planting of our Pappa’s hands every time he looked through the palace window!

In the past, I used to self-righteously condemn Ahab for his covetousness and audacity, wanting to buy Naboth’s ancestral inheritance; and only to plant a vegetable garden! Ahab had no intention of cheating Naboth for he offered him a better vineyard or ample monetary compensation.

I had to face myself, admitting that I too, used to bargain with our Lord, wanting to “buy” the fruitful vineyard only our Pappa can plant and nourish, to replace it with a vegetable garden of religious self-effort, traditions and customs. Just like Ahab I was convinced that I could do a much better job than our Heavenly Father. Oh, the futility and impossibility of such reasoning.

Archeological Remains of Jezreel

Just like Ahab, I sulked and moped when our Pappa frustrated all my efforts! And just like Jezebel, the enemy of our hearts didn’t allow any grass to grow under his feet. Like a wolf in sheep’s clothing he lured me to the assembly of the religious traditions of the elders and those whom we consider our Pappa’s Elite Corps; the spiritual nobility! He used a very pious religious practice as bait to make me feel so important in participating: fasting. The only fast I experienced was the hunger for our Pappa’s presence and love!

Just like Jezebel, he made it look so authentic by forging the king’s seal upon the invitation. He even gave me a place of honor, but soon sent his scoundrels to falsely accuse me of cursing our Heavenly Father and the traditions of the religious elite. Needless to say, I felt the stones bruising my heart and it took a long time to heal!

Oh, but the sweetness of that voice calling me just to come to Him, to stay in Him, and to experience His rest, was the coolest, most refreshing spring of joy and indescribable peace in the midst of an extremely severe winter season of my life.

I am not blessed with green fingers and therefore, with great joy and relief, I have surrendered my plans to plant a vegetable garden, to our Lord, resting in the shade of the vineyard He is planting in my life, enjoying all the delicious fruit He produces.

Much love to you

Mia

 

 

 

 

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Elijah, Mount Carmel and Me

God’s Thoughts to me

So Ahab summoned all the people of Israel and the prophets to Mount Carmel. Then Elijah stood in front of them and said, “How much longer will you waver, hobbling between two opinions ? If the Lord is God, follow Him! But if Baal is God, then follow him!” But the people were completely silent. (18 Kings 1:20-21, NLT).

The Contest on Mt Carmel

The last month I have been reluctantly travelling through the well-known Fm/CFS country, Mega-Flare Land. Actually, I was forced to accompany my unwelcome friends, Mr Pain, his ugly wife, Exhaustion, and their brood of brat-like kiddos: Fibrofog, IBS, Migraine, Desperado and all their siblings. They were joyfully irritating me, taking turns in giving me the honors of piggybacking them.

Taking a short respite, we stopped at a shady Inn called Quitters Paradise. This scaly looking building was situated in the middle of the desolate Plain of Despondency. I peeked through a dirty window and was not at all surprised to see a few very familiar felons already lodging there. Mr Self-Pity and his cousin, Mr Down-in-the-Dumps, were beckoning me inside, cordially inviting me to join their wallowing in a dark, dirty cesspool of muddy despair. I willingly capitulated and in the blink of an eye I was overwhelmed by a major Elijah moment. Remember that time after Elijah outran King Ahab to Jezreel?

Well, true to human nature and just following Elijah’s example, I offered our Lord my very famous BUT-GOD complaint. Yet, our gentle, loving Pappa patiently enquired, “What are you doing here,  Elijah? (Mia?)” (1 Kings 19:9b) He encouraged me not to waste my valuable little energy on my lamentations and languishing and invited me to rather join Him on another journey far back in time, thousands of years ago. I was not too keen to accept His offer for I did not want to leave my mud wallowing gremlin friends behind!

Double-Minded!

But our Lord’s gentle charm won my heart and I followed Him back to the days when Israel was experiencing a severe drought and was ruled by King Ahab. Actually, by Jezebel, since Ahab was totally under the petticoat government. Our Father introduced me to those obstinate, double-minded Israelites who were comfortably resting on their religious laurels. Their minds were in a comfy state of equipoise and they had one foot firmly planted in the state religion of Jezebel, and the other one, in the Heavenly Kingdom of our Pappa. My Pappa gently showed me that the condition of my heart was in reality not much different from theirs.

To my sorrow, I realized that my loyalties were also divided between religion and my allegiance to my Pappa. In other words, I was also double-minded and conveniently ignoring our Father’s words, “He is a double-minded man, unstable in all he does.” (James 1:8, NIV). I realized that I was also dancing around two altars and needed to repent of my foolishness, allowing the sweet Holy Spirit to drastically renew my mind and change my heart’s desires.

I appreciated Elijah’s originality in using a metaphor from the world of birds when he compared the Israelites to the notorious habit of birds, hopping from the one branch to the next, quite finicky about choosing where to settle. I could relate to that!

Ahab summoned Elijah and had the audacity to blame him for Israel’s 3-year long drought. Elijah vehemently denied the accusation and turned the blame back to its rightful owners: Ahab, Jezebel and their large entourage of Baal and Asherah cronies. Elijah courageously challenged them to that famous Carmel contest. Since Baal was considered by the people as the presiding deity who had the power over fire, the Israelites considered Elijah’s challenge to be a brilliant idea to determine once and for all who the only true God really was. I found it quite interesting that Elijah had rebuilt the altar of our Pappa that was previously demolished by Jezebel and her Asherah and Baal hirelings. It consisted of 12 stones representing the 12 sons of Jacob, and therefore the 12 tribes of the Israelite nation. It reminds me of our Lord Jesus using each and everyone of us as a living stone to build the spiritual temple of which He is the cornerstone (1 Peter 2:8-9).

To eliminate even the slightest possibility of human help (works of the flesh), Elijah ordered the Israelites to drench the altar three times, each time with 4 big jars of water. We are all familiar with the outcome of this contest, but my Pappa patiently showed me my allegiance to so many of the modern-day Baal and Asherah prophets and I knew that I also needed my own contest on Mount Carmel. I knew that serving their God only resulted in extreme spiritual poverty and subsequent “cutting of flesh” and bleeding of my soul.

A Bronze Sculpture of the Prophet Elijah, by Australian Artist, Louis Laumen

I needed to allow our Lord Jesus to slaughter all my false prophets. Like Elijah, I knew that I could spare them not even the slightest hint of mercy. I placed all these false perceptions and beliefs on the altar of my heart, drenched with all my tears. Our Heavenly Father wasted no time in sending forth His fire from heaven to consume my offering and filled all the empty spaces, vacated by all the wrong perceptions and idols of my heart, with His Love, His Life and abundant grace. He gently opened my eyes to the futility of the so-called Health, Wealth and Prosperity gospel with its own legion of prophets who had already ushered so many people into apostasy.

He opened my eyes to the dangers of the doctrines of all the so-called “…isms”, like Fundamentalism, Evangelism, Catholicism, Protestantism, Pentecostalism, Calvinism and so forth. Although these religious systems all contain a lot of intellectual truth, they reek of a multitude of laws, rules and regulations, but very limited life, no grace, no love, compassion or the relationship with our precious Savior.

They can actually be quite detrimental to the wonderful freedom our Lord Jesus has called us to for a relationship of love and respect to blossom and flourish. Our Pappa is all for simplicity, “He has showed you , O man, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with our God.” (Micah 6:8, NIV).

He has shown me that Christianity is not and will never be a book religion, or morality, or a belief system. Christianity will never be a method of problem-solving, or a-what-would-Jesus-do role-playing or an ideological option. For, Christianity is and will always be Christ, a blessed life lived in our Lord Jesus, “Christ in you, the hope of glory.” (Colossians 1:27, NIV). Forever and ever. Amen.

Dear Ones, needless to say, I was then completely cured of my affectionate affinity to mud pool wallowing… if only until next time!! Thank you so much for once again listening to all my ramblings.

Lots of hugs and blessings

Mia