(Download a free chapter of Jeff's book "The Land Between" here:http://www.willowcreek.com/events/leadership/2010/between.asp)
Jeff did a great job of exegeting Numbers 11, and what he calls "The Land Inbetween." He equated these time in our lives when we are stuck wandering in the desert between land of blessing and land of blessing to the time when Israel was wandering between fertile Egypt and the fertile crescent of the promise land. He reminded us that the story of Moses and the people is a real story of real people going through real problems and issues. He reminded us that the land between is fertile ground for complaint. (Numbers 11:7-9) I laughed hard when he read this passage, and said it had to be read in a "whiny voice." The land of between is not only fertile ground for complaint, but it goes further than that to the place of meltdown. (Numbers 11:10-15) Moses is done, fed up, and says, "Kill me right now!" We have all been in this place when the finances are gone, we're jobless, stuck in an unhealthy marriage, nailed with cancer, in a broken relationship, when our friends betray us.
Often we're prepared for some disappointment, but not necessarily for years of disappointment. After awhile we just get crushed by ongoing disappointment after disappointment.
And God doesn't leave Moses alone, but says that he will provide to help Moses carry the burden. God provides other people to shoulder the load with us in the land between. (Numbers 11:16-17) What if God provides not only for Moses and the Israelites in the land inbetween, but also for us? What does it look like for us to leave our hands open to let go of the crushing anxiety that is beating us down. What if he's good? What if he provides for us, like he provided lunch instead of a lecture for Moses?
Why do we respond like the Israelites do, thinking we are better off on our own without God? It's interesting when the people complain that God responds, and we find that the land between is fertile ground for God's discipline (Numbers 11:18-20). Pain, from God, is not to hurt us, but it is for redemptive purposes, to rescue us from something. He does not hurt us to hurt us.
The land between is fertile soil for transformational growth. But, God says that in order for transformational growth to happen, we have to trust him in the land between. It is in this space that we learn to pray, to depend, and to trust God.
Jeff used a great metaphor of battling roommates. Complaint comes unexpectedly into the house and resists eviction. Trust seeks to move into the house, too, but can't live with complaint, and eventually, when we begin to trust God, trust is the thing that evicts complaint.
May God bless you int he land between.
May you guard your heart.
May trust grow.
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