I had just picked her up from a day-long visit with her cousin, and the pull of her “real” family was strong.
“Do you mean that you want to go back and live there?” I ask her, hoping that wasn't what she meant, but fearing it was.
“Yes...” she whispers, still looking far away, too far away from me. *
Don't you remember?
Don't you remember the hunger? The abuse? The suffering? The sickness?How could you trade all of this...for that?
What can I say? She had forgotten so quickly what life was like there in her village. A day long visit was not enough to remember everything, only the good. But I knew. I knew they couldn't keep her no matter how much she wanted to go back. There were good reasons she was with us, and there was no way around those things. The biggest being her HIV. Not to mention little food and the abuse from ignorant people who were afraid of catching her disease. Her most common memories were never the nice ones, yet for some reason on this day, she kept looking back, wishing for what was her Egypt.
We've all been there, those times in our lives where our present circumstances just seem to fall flat. No matter how real God seems or how many miracles we see Him do we just can't seem to stop looking back, or forward, anywhere other than where we are. We are never satisfied, no matter how much we are given. Never content, never able to just rest in God's presence.
“The grass is always greener on the other side.”
This becomes our motto. Always looking for the greener grass, the next or better place, in life.
I do this all the time. I find myself daydreaming about living in America again, about where we'll live, what we'll do for work, where our kids will go to school. Before I know it, that grass seems greener. And the desert God has called me through today seems ugly and barren, and all I can feel is the heat and dust, and my feet feel blistered from the plodding. And even though I see the pillar of cloud and fire, it is not enough for my craving heart. I want more. I want meat and I want water and I want security. And I am never satisfied. Before I know it I have turned my back on that cloud and that fire, and I am looking back. Back towards my Egypt, and back towards slavery.
I am such an Israelite.
And God says to me, How can you trade all of this...for that?
How can I? How can any of us? How can we constantly trade a life lived in God's presence, full of abundance, for that? For slavery?
But we are all Israelites. And we just want it all. We want to have our cake and eat it too. Our pride creeps in and makes us think we know better than God what is best for us. We live looking towards the next best thing and miss the blessing of living in this moment, the one created especially for us. I know sometimes these moments seem too full, and I feel pulled too tight, stretched too thin, yet these moments are the only place we can know God's abundance and His presence.
My eyes are tired of the strain of looking back. I don't want to be an Israelite anymore. I want to live content. I want to live satisfied. I want to live fully in this moment, not the next. I want Him to be enough for my wandering heart, enough for my adventurous soul.
And He is...He is enough!
He alone can satisfy my needy, aching, discontented heart. I just need to turn my wandering eyes to Him and Him alone. No Egypt, no looking back, no fake green grass (because that's what it is – fake – that grass on the other side) just Him and Him alone.
He is enough.
God, keep our eyes fixed on you, not looking back towards Egypt. Lead us on a grand adventure, one that leads us ever closer to your feet and ever closer to your heart.
* This event happened several months ago. We talked through it that day, and the end result was good, thanks to God and the way He fixes broken things and broken people. As for Rikot, I think she is also trying to live in this moment, although her heart is often pulled in different directions. Please pray for her to continue to learn to follow the pillar of cloud and fire, and that God would become more real to her each and every day.