Pause

Often, when life isn’t working out the way we imagined or hoped, our impulse is to pray for God to change things.

We think, “if only” things were different, “if only” people were better, “if only” our needs were met, “if only” the pain went away, “if only” the choices were simple, “if only” temptation disappeared, “if only, if only…”

Sometimes God does transform situations, but more often, God changes us… if only we ask.

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Listen

The riffraff among them had a strong craving. Even the Israelites cried again and said, “Who will give us meat to eat? We remember the fish we ate in Egypt for free, the cucumbers, the melons, the leeks, the onions, and the garlic. Now our lives are wasting away. There is nothing but manna in front of us.”

Numbers 11:4-6

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Think

The Israelites had been slaves in Egypt; the Pharaoh had owned every minute of their lives, from birth to death. In God’s saving power, Moses led them to freedom. Miraculously, they crossed through the Red Sea, and rejoiced on the other side… and for the next forty years they were free but homeless, wandering a desert wilderness, living in tents and always on the move.

Their seaside rejoicing was drowned out by the sound of growling stomachs. You can’t wait for a garden of veggies to grow when you’re always walking. You can’t cast a net for fish in the hot sand. God provided plenty of manna — a dry, seedy grain —but manna cakes were no substitute for sweet melons and tasty Nile River perch, the so-called “free” foods of slavery.

The Israelites knew God was providing for their needs, but still their stomachs and their hearts were not satisfied. God had given the Israelites the gift of true freedom, but in their hunger for more, even slavery looked better than boredom.

Nikki Finkelstein-Blair

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Pray

God, help my heart to be thankful for all you have provided for me on this day, in this life. Remind me to rejoice, especially when I am hungry or bored or wishful or forgetful. Free me from the slavery of always wanting more. Amen.

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Go

God doesn’t only change us; God changes the world through us. When our attitudes are transformed, God can transform the people and situations we encounter.

If only we choose wisely when options are hard,
if only we respond kindly when people are cruel,
if only we act boldly when someone is hurt...

May God use us to answer the “if only” prayers of our world.

Nikki Finkelstein-Blair

Rev. Nicole Finkelstein-Blair is a 2001 graduate of Central Baptist Seminary and an ordained Baptist minister. As a military family for the past 15 years, she and her husband Scott and their two boys have found “church homes” across the country and across denominations. For fun, she writes, reads, knits, and helps the school librarian make bulletin boards. :)

Stillness

Carter Harrell: Making Space

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