Joshua 5:12 ESV
12 And the manna ceased the day after they ate of the produce of the land. And there was no longer manna for the people of Israel, but they ate of the fruit of the land of Canaan that year.
As much as we’d all rather eat the fruit of the land…no one wants to be without manna. Me. You. None of us.
Every morning these people would wake up and grab a couple of quarts of flake-like stuff and eat it for a day. Fruit was better, but it was also more work. The fruit of the land would be found beyond the walls of Jericho and the famous places of Ai and Bethel. The fruit called them to keep progressing. Manna could be enjoyed every day while going nowhere.
Manna is great- if you’re in the wilderness.
MIND SOMEONE’S BUSINESS
The other day I was eavesdropping on two guys’ conversation and found myself really engaged in the content. One guy asks the other, “How is work going?” The other guy says, “Basically, it s**** and I hate it.” He went on to describe the horrors of working 14 hour days and corporate coming in telling everyone to get a good night’s sleep so they can bring their best to work. This guy was so aggravated he said, “I wanted to punch them in the mouth.” See why I was listening? Anyhow, he talked about wanting a different job, but his skillset was too narrow. He talked about being offered other jobs, but the pay wasn’t as good.
Every excuse was a refusal to change. Mostly, he refused to change tomorrow though he hated today.
The good news is that he has a job. With the nation’s U6 unemployment rate at 10% (higher than 2007), any job is probably better than nothing. But. Why should we be content in something we despise? Yes, I believe in working up. I also believe in doing time at the bottom of the org chart. Dream big- start small (Steven Furtick). Despise not the day of small beginnings (Zech 4:10). There is much learning and character to be found down there. But- what do you do when you’ve learned and built and are ready to fly? Change.
How’s your marriage? How’s your job? How’s parenting going? How’s your faith?
When the answer reads more like our anonymous friend than a page out of the Promised Land, change is necessary. Change. Is. Necessary. There is an old Texas adage that says if all you ever do is all you’ve ever done, then all you’ll ever get is all you ever got. At some point, we must become comfortable with change.
BLACK EYED PEA
Change comes with some bruises. You’ll probably fall down- you may even say the wrong stuff. Who cares? I’d rather trip on a trail I’ve never been on than walk perfectly along the one that has been comfortable for the last 40 years. Manna was comfortable.
But no one left Egypt for manna.
You didn’t go to school to take a loathsome job. You didn’t leave the freedoms of single life to be trapped in a miserable marriage. And you definitely didn’t go through the pains of childbirth to raise terrible kids. So, why do we?
Most of us left Egypt for milk and honey while settling for manna in the wilderness. The bad job is better than no job. Manna was God’s grace- but it was only intended to get Israel through the wilderness to the Promised Land. That’s it. They settled. They became content without the promise. As much as we don’t like settling, we like change even less.
When we are simply married without a flourishing relationship- we’ve settled. When we are simply surviving parenting without the thrill of thriving- we’ve settled. Why?
BACK TO JOSHUA
Almost 40 years before our text, Joshua was emphatic about taking the Promised Land (Nu 14:6-8). Soon after our text, after only one defeat he says, “Would that we had been content to dwell beyond the Jordan!” (Josh 7:7). Did I mention change is hard?
Sociologists agree with the Bible on this one- the greatest fuel for successful change is perseverance (Jam 1:4). It’s not as much about never falling as much as it is about getting back up. God ordered Joshua to get up (Josh 7:10).
What’s your plan? How are you going to get to the Promised Land? Wandering is no longer an option. You’re tired of that awful job. Your love life is a disaster and these kids are driving you crazy (and me too). You can’t get new kids or a new spouse, but you can do things differently.
A better plan will bring better results. You don’t just seek God for goosebumps in church. This cosmic relationship between you and Him brings the wisdom of heaven to life. Your life.
Regardless of the required complexity, any change seems uniformly difficult. Sometimes it’s as simple as a schedule revision (honor the Sabbath). Sometimes it’s as complicated as forgiveness (love your neighbor). Both require perseverance.
Originally, Joshua’s army took 3,000 men against Ai. After their defeat, they repented, burned the traitor and returned with 30,000 men. This time, they won. They could have refused to fight again and just returned to the wilderness side of the Jordan. They didn’t- and neither should you.
Change. Persevere. Win.
A weekly blog by G. Shawn Scarborough, Pastor of Livingstone Church