I’ve decided that somehow God has paced my reading of this book to match the journey of my life. I hope that because of the sporadic nature of this book study you have been able to gain insight at the appropriate times in your life as well.
Today we will look at Wilderness Mentality #3:
“Please make everything easy. I can’t take it if things are too hard!”
As a mom and teacher, I have watched a generation of kids develop this kind of mentality, haven’t you? As soon as a math problem gets a little tough, kids are begging for calculators. Multiple choice tests instead of fill-in- the- blank questions seem to be the norm anymore. At least this gives kids a chance to see the right answer as an option……but even then many kids choose to guess, simply so they don’t have to read every word on the paper in front of them.
Have you ever thought about how easy we have it in our lifetime compared to the generations before us?
As I was reading in Genesis 36 a few days ago, I was reading about the genealogy of the people of Edom. Name after name was listed as descendants of different tribes. In this list was a man named Zibeon who had two sons, Aiah and Anah (I would have loved to have heard their mom calling them to dinner). Anyway, out of this long list of tribes and clans the only special note comes after Anah’s name. It says in parenthesis next to his name:
This is the Anah who discovered the hot springs in the wilderness while he was grazing his father’s donkeys.
As I read these words, it struck me as odd that out of all the things that all those men had probably done in their lives the author of Genesis chose to mention this as a highlight in a long list of names.
I have mulled it around in my head a lot since then, and yesterday as I had determined to have a day of being thankful for the little things in life, something hit me as I was stepping into the shower………hot water!
I realized at that very moment that possibly before the day that Anah stumbled upon that hot spring that just maybe people had never known what hot water felt like unless they had boiled it over a fire. And I’m just thinking that big pots were not easy things to make back in those days, so having the luxury of a hot bath was probably not something many people ever experienced.
I would have loved to have seen the faces of his family as he ran home to tell them what he had found. Can you imagine being his brother, Aiah? The rest of their lives he was probably referred to as the brother of Anah who discovered the hot springs in the wilderness while grazing his father’s donkeys.
I say all of that to say two things:
First, we need to be thankful for how easy and comfortable our lives are even when they seem very difficult. As we rode in the back seat of a taxi while in India, I was overwhelmed with the sights surrounding us on sidewalks and streets. Women bathing children right next to beggars. Men being shaved by barbers who had simply hung mirrors on sides of rock walls. Elderly people huddled against trees waiting for someone to offer them a bite to eat. If you have access to Internet, I’d say you are one of the most fortunate human beings alive. Not because of the Internet but because that probably means you also have electricity and running water.
Second, God sometimes allows us to discover new things when we are simply doing “the next right thing.” I don’t think Anah set out to find a hot spring. He simply found it while grazing donkeys. He was doing the work he was asked to do and because of his willingness to be where he was suppose to be when he was suppose to be, he found something that changed history enough for it to be mentioned beside his name in a genealogy list. I think that’s pretty special!
For me this journey of healing from my surgery has been a real soul-searching experience. My passion in life is writing and helping people find purpose in their pain. Teaching middle school kids combined with the stress that is placed on teachers by state regulations often seems to keep me so far from removed from my passion. I easily find myself second-guessing my future and feeling overwhelmed and discouraged.
And then I sit down to read the next chapter in Joyce’s book and suddenly a light goes on as I realize that what I’m feeling about teaching is truly a wilderness mentality. I want teaching to be easy, and it’s not. I want to make a difference in the world without any sweat or tears, and I cannot.
Joyce talks about how we must lean on God as our Provider and Comforter as we face tough challenges. If life were too easy, we would have no need for God. The Bible says, “Do not grow weary in doing good.” This tells me that when we choose to do good there is a high probability that eventually we are going to get tired. We must press on toward the prize. We must take times to be still and rest. But we must not ever allow ourselves to get to a point where we stop moving forward because life is too hard.
Joyce discusses the fact that we never read in the Bible about a time when Jesus talked about how hard His life was. He didn’t complain about not having a place to lay His head or about the fact that He had to come to the earth so that He could die for our sins. No. He lived. He loved. He chose not to have a wilderness mentality in spite of all the reasons He could have had one. And He set an example that we are suppose to follow.
The chapter ends with one of my favorite verses.
“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”
The question today is one I am asking myself,
“What is my mind focused on?”
Am I looking to Christ for strength or am I focused on myself and feeling weak?
I’m thankful for people like Anah who did what they were called to do even when it was grazing donkeys. I’m sure there were days when heading out into an open field with a bunch of animals was not the most fun career path he could have chosen.
However, God did a mighty thing through Anah when he least expected it!
What tedious, difficult or even mundane (because sometimes doing something that isn’t very exciting can be just as challenging as doing something that is physically or emotionally draining) have you been called to do today?
Whatever it is, do it as if you were working for the Lord, your Heavenly Father.
Anah was grazing his father’s donkeys when he changed history.
You never know how what you’re going to do today that may make life different for generations to come!
Thankful for each of you in a very special way,