An arm long enough

imageI’ve been studying in Numbers. It follows Moses and the Israelites out of Egypt through the desert toward Canaan, the land God promised them. My strategy is to put myself in their story. Not surprisingly, I often find that my own challenges mimic those recorded in the word.

What? Did you not know that God is trying to teach us? Don’t you know that the purpose of scripture is to get us to believe him without making our own mistakes? He’s a good father. He doesn’t want us to learn in the cruel classroom of experience. It’s so much less painful and time-consuming to simply trust his word and believe — we call that faith.

Now to Moses and God’s people…

The Israelites cried out for food in the desert. God provided manna each day. Just enough for that day. He was teaching them to rely fully on him. You know, just like we need to learn.

Numbers 11

4 The rabble with them began to crave other food, and again the Israelites started wailing and said, “If only we had meat to eat! 5 We remember the fish we ate in Egypt at no cost—also the cucumbers, melons, leeks, onions and garlic. 6 But now we have lost our appetite; we never see anything but this manna!”

Have you ever asked God for anything, only to take it for granted later? Have you ever craved more, even when God has provided all you need? Yeah, me too.

18 “Tell the people: ‘Consecrate yourselves in preparation for tomorrow, when you will eat meat. The Lord heard you when you wailed, “If only we had meat to eat! We were better off in Egypt!” Now the Lord will give you meat, and you will eat it. 19 You will not eat it for just one day, or two days, or five, ten or twenty days, 20 but for a whole month—until it comes out of your nostrils and you loathe it—because you have rejected the Lord, who is among you, and have wailed before him, saying, “Why did we ever leave Egypt?”’”

Oops. God heard their complaining and answered. Have you ever gotten what you begged for only to learn that it didn’t satisfy or fulfill you like you had dreamed? Perhaps it was not only a disappointment, but it was absolutely awful. Check. I’ve been there and done that. It will cause you to question everything. God will use your disillusionment to guide you back to him, though. He’s a good father.

21 But Moses said, “Here I am among six hundred thousand men on foot, and you say, ‘I will give them meat to eat for a whole month!’ 22 Would they have enough if flocks and herds were slaughtered for them? Would they have enough if all the fish in the sea were caught for them?”

Moses was sick of the people’s whining immaturity. He was angry at God for giving him this enormous responsibility. He was overwhelmed. So, he did a little of his own complaining sprinkled with a measure of doubt. It’s funny how often doubt and complaining go arm-in-arm. Have you ever complained because you doubted? Yep, me too. I love God’s response to Moses.

23 The Lord answered Moses, “Is the Lord’s arm too short? Now you will see whether or not what I say will come true for you.”

Did God’s long arm provide? Read for yourself.

31 Now a wind went out from the Lord and drove quail in from the sea. It scattered them up to two cubits deep all around the camp, as far as a day’s walk in any direction. 32 All that day and night and all the next day the people went out and gathered quail.

imageTwo cubits is about three feet. Like thigh high in quail. It took over a million people two days to pick them up. Dude, that’s a LOT of quail. Let me assure you of something. Listen. Whatever your difficulty or need right now, turn to God. He wants to hear from his precious child. Ask and he will answer… he’ll answer big! His arm is more than long enough to gather you in, hug you, and make you safe. Love you much!

 

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About Tony Schmitz

Tony Schmitz received his BS in Mechanical Engineering from Temple University in 1993, his MS in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Florida in 1996, and his PhD in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Florida in 1999. He is a mechanical engineering professor at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.
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