You made it out the door. You're on the road. The windows are down. The music is loud. Everyone in the car is talking about how awesome the road trip is going to be.
What a time to be alive. It's like some cool movie from the 1970's. Anything could happen, and no matter what, it was going to be an awesome adventure.
Just when you were on your way something, or somebody brings you to a total stop. Your perfectly planned road trip seems over before it even got started. Your 1970's road trip adventure film had become a 1980's yuppie Wall Street movie.
Time for a diversion.
When I was younger this would have meant my friends and I started making fun of each other. My college roommates would have started arguing about cars or girls, or something. Today, it means pulling out your mobile device and sharing dumb videos with each other. The chatter about the road trip disappears and is replaced by a distraction from the current situation. The loud music is replaced with cat videos.
In life, things aren't so simple. We set a plan for our life. We make lists. We write down all the reasons why this time is going to be different. And maybe we even reach out to a friend to be an accountability partner.
Yeah, this time is definitely going to be different.
We pray. We take our request to God. We trust in him to bring about the life change we are looking for.
It's an exciting time; a new beginning.
We find ourselves waiting...waiting on someone else to move, waiting on a decision to be made, waiting on God to do what we've asked him to do. While we wait, we look for distractions. Before long, we're right back in the place we didn't want to be; the place we promised ourselves we wouldn't go back to.
How did I get here? How do I always get here? Why did God let me get here again? Why didn't God do what I asked him to do? Does he even care? Is he even there?
When the people saw how long it was taking Moses to come back down the mountain, they gathered around Aaron. “Come on,” they said, “make us some gods who can lead us. We don’t know what happened to this fellow Moses, who brought us here from the land of Egypt.”
The nation of Israel, now freed from the bondage of slavery in Egypt, was on an epic road trip to the Promised Land. They made a pit stop at Mount Sinai. Their leader disappeared into a thick cloud of smoke as he ascended the mountain. He was gone for 40 days.
Moses was their guy. He was their leader. He was the one that freed them from slavery. But now after 40 days, he was just the fellow who brought them there from Egypt. After a 40 day traffic jam, they needed a diversion; something to help pass the time while they waited, or maybe something to replace the thing they were waiting for.
All the people took the gold rings from their ears and brought them to Aaron. Then Aaron took the gold, melted it down, and molded it into the shape of a calf. When the people saw it, they exclaimed, “O Israel, these are the gods who brought you out of the land of Egypt!”
Wow. How easily they forgot. The faithful and obedient Moses was forgotten. The God who Moses was faithful and obedient to was replaced with a Golden Calf.
These were a group of people who had watched God bring down plagues on the land, a God who split the Red Sea for them, a God who had provided food for them, a God whose thunderous voice they had just heard, and a God to whom they pledged their everlasting devotion.
Oh, Israel! What are we going to do with you?
Then the Lord said, “I have seen how stubborn and rebellious these people are. Now leave me alone so my fierce anger can blaze against them, and I will destroy them. Then I will make you, Moses, into a great nation.”
Sounds like it's game over for Israel. time to hit the reset button, and start over. But Moses didn't want that to happen. Maybe he was just old and tired and didn't want to have to go through all this again, or maybe he had genuine compassion for the people whom he was leading. Whatever the case may be, Moses stood before God and pleaded their case.
But Moses tried to pacify the Lord his God. “O Lord!” he said. “Why are you so angry with your own people whom you brought from the land of Egypt with such great power and such a strong hand? Why let the Egyptians say, ‘Their God rescued them with the evil intention of slaughtering them in the mountains and wiping them from the face of the earth’? Turn away from your fierce anger. Change your mind about this terrible disaster you have threatened against your people! Remember your servants Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. You bound yourself with an oath to them, saying, ‘I will make your descendants as numerous as the stars of heaven. And I will give them all of this land that I have promised to your descendants, and they will possess it forever.’”
So the Lord changed his mind about the terrible disaster he had threatened to bring on his people.
Dang! Must be nice to have someone so close to God who can plead Israel's case and remind God of his promises.
Sound familiar? This is what Jesus is doing for all of us all the time. He is standing by God, pleading our case and reminding God of his promises. Jesus is the lens of purity and righteousness through which God looks upon us.
I don't know if you're in a traffic jam right now or not. I don't know what God is trying to do in your life, but I do know that God is doing SOMETHING in your life right now, whether you can see it or not. I can also be reasonably sure that there are things in your life that you are using as a diversion from your current situation; things that pacify you until you are ready to face the traffic jam of your life. I know that it is true because it is true for all of us who are trying to follow Jesus.
1 Peter 5:6-11
So humble yourselves under the mighty power of God, and at the right time he will lift you up in honor. Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you.
Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour. Stand firm against him, and be strong in your faith. Remember that your family of believers all over the world is going through the same kind of suffering you are.
In his kindness God called you to share in his eternal glory by means of Christ Jesus. So after you have suffered a little while, he will restore, support, and strengthen you, and he will place you on a firm foundation. All power to him forever! Amen.
Gather with us this Sunday as we continue to learn about Israel's road trip to the Promised Land in our 'Are We There Yet?' series.