“I often trade what I really want for what I want right now.” A friend commented recently and I find myself thinking about it often.
What I want right now is a double chocolate donut… but what I really want is to lose weight.
What I want right now is to read my current fiction book of choice… but what I really want is to read through the Bible in a year.
What I want right now is spend time on Facebook and Pinterest instead of cleaning… but what I really want is a clean home.
What I want right now is to go out to dinner instead of planning and cooking a meal… but what I really want is to feed my family healthy meals that cost less than $10 – so we can be healthy and stick to a budget.
What I want right now is to put on jammies and stay home instead of going out with friends… but what I really want is to strengthen friendships.
What I want right now is to go walk around target instead of going for a run… but what I really want is a healthy, strong body.
I could go on and on. Did anything come to your mind? I think occasionally it’s OK to choose what we want right now over what we really want. But, if occasionally becomes often, then we will never get what we really want. I fear I can relate to my friend’s comment more than I’d like to. “I often trade what I really want for what I want right now.”
Recently as I was reading in Exodus, I thought how the Israelites had this attitude too. They were in bondage to Egypt. They were slaves forced into hard labor. They were forced to kill their first born sons. They were not allowed to worship God properly. But God rescued them. You know the story… He sent his plagues on Egypt and eventually Pharaoh let the Israelites leave. Pharaoh then changed his mind and chased after them. God parted the Red Sea and allowed the Israelites to go through, but when the Egyptians tried to follow, God had the water cover over them. God rescued the Israelites and promised to deliver them to a land flowing with milk and honey.
But first God took the Israelites into the desert. There, one month after God’s miraculous display of power and deliverance of the Israelites, they began to complain and longed for Egypt, “There we sat around pots filled with meat and ate all the bread we wanted. But now you have brought us into this wilderness to starve to death.” (Exodus 16:3) They were ready to trade what they really wanted – freedom from Egyptians, freedom to worship God, living in the promised land for what they wanted right now – food. God heard their grumbling and fed them manna and quail everyday.
Not long later, God was confirming his covenant with the Israelites. God said, “If you will obey me and keep my covenant, you will be my own special treasure from among all the earth: for all the earth belongs to me. And you will be my kingdom of priests, my holy nation.” (Exodus 19:5) The Israelites responded that they will do everything the Lord commanded including “You must not have any other Gods but me. You must not make for yourself an idol of any kind or an image of anything in the heavens or on the earth or in the sea. You must no bow down to them or worship them.” (The first and second commandments found in Exodus 20:3-5). They agreed. They want to be His special people. But then God brought Moses up to a mountain for 40 days. “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,’ … 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.'” (Exodus 32: 1, 3-4) The Israelites really wanted to be God’s chosen people, but their impatience to wait 40 days for Moses to return with God’s word caused them to trade what they really wanted for what they wanted right now – a god, any god. And so they made their own.
I don’t want to be like the Israelites… but I’m afraid I have been.
Christ was not. When he was hungry in the desert (“For 40 days and 40 nights he fasted and became very hungry” Matthew 4:2), he did not give into Satan’s temptation for food. Christ did not choose what he may have wanted – to feed his hunger over what He really wanted – to come to earth to live a perfect life honoring God, to suffer and die and rise again to save his people. So I press on to be more like Christ… not trading what I really want for what I want right now.
Therefore, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus. (Hebrews 12:1-2)
I have not achieved it (perfection), but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus is calling us. (Philippians 3:13)