The past few days have been a potpourri of blessings and challenges all muddled together in one big congealed lump. I’ve had so many things pulling at me, so many things distracting me, that it’s hard to know which way to turn. That’s why I’m so late posting, for those of you who await my updates.
Each day has been a continuous stream of answered prayers, trials, a sense of awe and a sense of abandonment. But really that’s the recipe of life, and when we bite into it, we often only taste the last ingredient added. In other words, we keep our eyes on our immediate circumstances and lose sight of all else.
That got me thinking about the Hebrews during the exodus. Their spiritual desert was a 40-year-long sandstorm of blessing and cursing. God would do something incredible in their lives, but they would forget the miracle when faced with the next trial.
In Numbers 21, we read how the people of Israel vowed, “If You will deliver this people into our hands, we will completely destroy their cities.” God did, they did, and everybody was happy – for a little while. The Canaanites defeated, the Israelites resumed their wandering and their grumbling. “Why, God? Why?” they cried out in complaint. Their great victory over their enemies was already forgotten.
The Lord responded by sending poisonous snakes that bit and killed many of them. Reading the full account, you can hardly blame him. But then the Lord commanded Moses to make a bronze snake, mount it on a pole and tell everyone to look at it if they want to be healed.
Now, think about this for a minute. It was a serpent that Satan used to deceive Adam and Eve in the garden that started this whole mess in the first place, and it was a brood of venomous serpents that was the latest harbinger of death and suffering. And God tells people to look up at the image of one if they want to live? That seems a little backward, doesn’t it?
It doesn’t really make much sense until you get to John 3:14-15, when Jesus had a late-night Bible study with Nicodemus and we learn that the bronze snake wasn’t supposed to be some sort of idol but was a foreshadowing of Christ on the cross. Jesus said, “Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the desert, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, that everyone who believes in Him may have eternal life.”
So although they Israelites were told they were to look at an image of the one thing that would have repulsed them at that moment, their obedient response was an act of faith that really caused them to look to the One who alone could deliver them. “Look this way,” God was essentially saying to them. And that is the same message He has for us today.
In all our joys and struggles, we must fix our eyes upon the Savior who loved us and died for us and now always lives to make intercession for us (Hebrews 7:25). The cross that brought death has brought us hope.
When my oldest son tells me of a breakthrough in response to months of prayer, God says, “Look this way.”
When my youngest is no longer a boy but a man, and I realize my job as a mother is all but done, God says, “Look this way.”
When I learn of yet another unexpected expense when my checkbook is still reeling from the last one, God says, “Look this way.”
When I see a heart softening and a relationship healing, God says, “Look this way.”
When lied to and rejected by someone I love, God says, “Look this way.”
When feeling overwhelmed in trying to determine direction for this next phase of life, God says, “Look this way.”
When looking for victory in a seemingly impossible situation in my own life, God says, “Look this way.”
When rejoicing over the victories in a friend’s life, God says, “Look this way.”
In the last hours before our first grandchild enters the world, God says, “Look this way.”
And with that, I suppose it is time I head to the hospital. And as I look upon the sweet face of our first grandchild, I will look to the One whose love for her exceeds my own.