Thursday, May 31, 2012

Holding my Breath While Reading the Book of Numbers

My personal bible study goal with the Lord is to read through the whole Bible each year.  I have been doing this for a long time.  I don’t always get through the whole Bible each year, but that is always my goal.  This year, I decided to shake things up a little bit and read the New Testament first and then started on the Old Testament.

Reading the Pentateuch is always an interesting time.  Now, we know that “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness (2 Tim. 3:16).” I have to constantly remind myself of verses like these when I’m in the midst of a book like Numbers, reading about the arrangement of the camp in Chapter 2 or the census of the Israelites in Chapter 26.   If we aren’t careful, we may want to skip over sections like these, preferring instead to find some quick verses we can pull out that we think are more “applicable” passages to our lives.  I’ve heard people use descriptions like “Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth” or “God’s Roadmap for Life” for God’s Word.  While these phrases are not wrong and actually are quite helpful at times, I think it is important to remember that God’s Word is a book that is about God, not us.  If I approach the Word in a self-centered way, I might not ever read books like Numbers.  This year, God jumped off the pages at me in the book of Numbers. 

These past few months of my life have offered up some of the most challenging trials to my trust in God. 

My husband and I are approaching our 10 year wedding anniversary (June 1st).  What a milestone!  It’s a time for thanksgiving and appreciation to the Lord for all that He has taught us, how he has used us in ministry and how he has sustained us over the course of our marriage.  This is all true, but underneath the surface, there’s something that seems to be missing:  we have not yet experienced the joy and blessing of parenthood.  For the last couple of years, I feel like I been holding my breath waiting for motherhood. 
We began “trying” a few years ago and it didn’t take long for us to figure out that something was wrong.  However, we didn’t really have a name for our problem until a few months ago.   

This brings me back to Numbers.  You know the Pentateuch as a whole contains several stories of women waiting on the Lord for children, but this isn’t where God spoke to me.  No, He spoke to me in the midst of the years and years of toil of his people.  In Egypt…. Sojourning through the wilderness…. at the edge of the Promised Land…. the intricacies of the laws of purification, the duty of the Levites, the genealogies of His people…  Why is all this information recorded in the Bible?  Is it just so we’d have a history of the Israelites to go back and refer to?  No, something else is going on in these passages.  If we have a man-centered view of the Word, we might miss it.  But with a God-centered view, it jumps off the pages:  God is preparing the world for something – something that was planned before the foundations of the world. 

Before Adam and Eve were even created;

Before Abraham was called out to leave his people and his country in search of another;

Before Sarah was given Isaac;

Before Rachel’s womb was opened and became fruitful; and

Before Caleb went and spied out the land of milk and honey. 

God planned to send Jesus to be the perfect spotless sacrifice for the sins of man.  Can you see it?  Can you see the plan unfolding in Numbers?  It’s there.  The Gospel is there:
it’s in the sacrificial system;
it’s in the story of God calling Abraham;

Can you see the character of God in the construction of the tabernacle? 

What God showed me in the midst of Numbers this Spring is that life is hard, but God has a plan that is much bigger than my life and my desire for motherhood.  I want to be a mom right NOW, but is this what God wants?  I honestly don’t know.  I must surrender my desires to Him and realize that in his master plan, there is a time for everything and I cannot make Him operate by my timetable.  I must submit my plans to his.  I have to stop holding my breath and putting my life on pause.  I truly believe that God desires motherhood for my life, whether biologically or thru adoption.  When I read Numbers, I see the patience of God, the love of God, the glory of God, the justice of God.  Is my ultimate desire for my life to glorify Him?  If so, I must submit to His timing… and trust the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.  

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