When I just get _______ then my life will be right on track.
Fill in the blank.
We all look forward to having, or experiencing something. There’s probably something you’re waiting for right now. Most of the time, the things we look forward to fulfil a need, give us pleasure and brings us closer to a better life. We daydream about what life would look like when everything falls into the place.
But we forget that when you really level up in life, things get a bit more difficult. As they say, ‘new levels, new devils’. And when this happens, we get thrown off, we start to question everything.
We're not alone. All the way back in Exodus, the Israelites were on the cusp of being freed from hundreds of years of slavery in Egypt. Their leader at the time had successfully negotiated an exit deal which both sides were happy with. But humans are unreliable, we change our minds, and that’s exactly what the Egyptians did. They said to themselves:
“What have we done? We have let the Israelites go and have lost their services!”
So [Pharaoh] had his chariot made ready and took his army with him. He took six hundred of the best chariots, along with all the other chariots of Egypt, with officers over all of them. - Exodus 14:5-8
Up until this point, the Israelites’ exit had been pretty smooth. They had travelled across the country with God guiding them both day and night. After years of oppression, they had finally got not only what they wanted, but what they desperately needed. FINALLY, things were falling into place.
But now this? Now the challenge? Why?
So obviously they had the normal human reaction:
“As Pharaoh approached, the Israelites looked up, and there were the Egyptians, marching after them. They were terrified and cried out to the Lord. They said to Moses, “Was it because there were no graves in Egypt that you brought us to the desert to die? What have you done to us by bringing us out of Egypt? Didn’t we say to you in Egypt, ‘Leave us alone; let us serve the Egyptians’? It would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the desert!” - Exodus 14:10-12
I don’t blame them. How many times have we finally got what we’ve been pushing for, only to come across a few more hurdles or roadblocks?
It’s natural to be deflated, and question whether you had even made the right decision in the first place.
Maybe it was all in your head.
Maybe it really was too good to be true.
Maybe the person who coined the phrase ‘better the devil you know’ knew what they were talking about.
It’s so tempting to doubt. To wonder whether you should turn back and stick to what you know, even if it’s as bad as being a slave. Sometimes starting something new, no matter how GOOD it really is, is usually more stretching than what you were doing before. Lately I’ve been relating to the Israelites way more than I’d like to admit, so what God says next caught my eye:
“Why are you crying out to me? Tell the Israelites to move on” - Exodus 14:15
Nice and direct.
God gives us ‘just enough’ of what we need to make the next step. So most times we don’t have the full picture, we get only a glimpse and have to work with whatever is in front of us, good or bad. With more opportunities come more different types of challenges. There will be highs, and many lows, but it’ll all be worth it.
So you don’t go back to the old stuff. You move on, you press on and push forward regardless of the circumstance. Getting what you want and need is a beautiful thing, but it’s not always easy.
Channel that 'Big Picture' Thinking
Life isn’t about getting to point where everything is perfect, it's about thriving no matter whether things look good or bad. When we understand that everything we experience is part of a wider story, we’re able to face the day with the same level of confidence, boldness and passion in the face of more challenging times.
Understanding this is only the beginning of the story. Each experience from now on will require you to put this knowledge to work. It was the same with the Israelites. After this, God gave Moses a blueprint for escaping the Egyptians who were in hot pursuit of them. But even still, they had MANY lapses in confidence.
I hope that when those challenging days come, you’ll remember these words and embrace life’s peaks AND its troughs. Because there are going to many.
"So we’re not giving up. How could we! Even though on the outside it often looks like things are falling apart on us, on the inside, where God is making new life, not a day goes by without his unfolding grace.
These hard times are small potatoes compared to the coming good times, the lavish celebration prepared for us. There’s far more here than meets the eye. The things we see now are here today, gone tomorrow. But the things we can’t see now will last forever." - 2 Corinthians 4:16-18