We’re in Cambodia until the end of the week, at a town right on the coast, so naturally there are tourists. There’s a group of people out here called, “Expats.” It’s short for expatriates, or, people who live outside their native country. They’re not so much the young people wandering the globe, partying and seeing the sights before going back to the “real world” where parents with expectations of college and career are anxiously waiting. They’re people who come to Cambodia to work, retire, or to live for whatever reason on a permanent basis.
When I look around, though, sometimes the line between one and the other isn’t so clear. For example, we ran into a guy running a cafe back in Battambang who told us he’s from the US and got “stuck” here, and then just, “…I’ll leave it at that.”
Hmmm…I wondered what happened. Did he run out of money? Maybe he’s running from the IRS? Or what if he’s in a witness protection program. It’s always possible he got mixed up with the wrong girl. What would it be like to come to Cambodia for a month and end up staying for years? Life has it’s twist and turns. I know I’ve had mine.
Hearing more than one story like this over the past couple months, got me thinking about the journey of life and how people “end up” at one place or another. It’s easy to have regret about missed opportunities in days gone by. “Where would I be if I actually stuck with this or that?”
I finished Deuteronomy in the Bible and the people of Israel are about to cross the Jordan River and cross into the “promised land”. They had wandered the wilderness for at least 40 years. They’d wandered until the people with cancerous unbelief died off.
In the Psalms, they are quoted and their unbelief comes through loud and strong even though they remembered God’s miracles in the same statement.
“True, he struck the rock,
and water gushed out,
streams flowed abundantly,
but can he also give us bread?
Can he supply meat for his people?”
David calls his own mind to what God had done in the past to try and build his own faith.
“I will consider all your works and meditate on all your mighty deeds.”
These people started like that, and then they threw a negative amendment at the end, which, of course, diminished and nullified their own statement of faith.
“I know you are with me, Lord, but…”
“You have brought me out of the mire and set my feet on a rock, but….” Sort of takes the power out of it, doesn’t it?
Essentially throwing a doubt or fear at the end of a praise is like say yes and no in the same breath.
“Yes, but no.”
The thing I’ve been asking myself lately is not, “Where is the promised land?” but “What is the promised land?” Am I like Joshua and Caleb who came back with a good report about the challenges ahead or am I like the other spies who said, “Yes it’s good, but…”
What is my promised land… now… today? What step of faith is God asking me to take that seems too hard? What has he been saying to me for years?
A teacher talking about hearing the voice of God once told me something like this: “Are you having trouble hearing God’s voice? Well, think back to the last time you know for sure he spoke to you. Then ask yourself, ‘Did I do what he said?’”
Maybe I’ve been circling the mountain in the wilderness instead of going by faith, proclaiming that the blessings outweigh the difficulties. Have I grown accustomed to the wilderness and, in a way, become a permanent resident there?
Again, it’s more likely God is waiting on me than the opposite. What if I could go into the “promised land” anytime I’m ready? What if my unbelief is the only obstacle? Check out Caleb’s statement about claiming his inheritance in the promised land.
“So here I am today, eighty-five years old! I am still as strong today as the day Moses sent me out… their cities were large and fortified, but, the Lord helping me, I will drive them out just as he said.”
How different is this statement from the one that says, “Yes, but, blah blah blah.”?
On and off as I was writing this, I was looking at pictures of my brother, Klaus on Facebook because it’s his birthday today (May 16). I came across this one. It’s a picture of a note from our Dad with a humorous remark about the “promised land”. Happy Birthday Kid!