It was a moment of disbelief, sadness, and frustration. Before I realized what was happening, I heard these words come out of my mouth: “your presence is not enough.” I couldn’t believe it. I sat there horrified. I tried to argue it away, saying that I didn’t mean it and that those were just random words that came to mind. However, I eventually settled on the fact that out of the overflow of my heart I speak (Luke 6:45). What was I to do? I just told the God of the universe that the very thing he died to give me was not enough.
Praise God that happened years ago. Now, things are different. After that moment, I began to realize that I didn’t know how to spend time with Jesus in a way where we really connected, in a way that was relational. If all my friends were gone for a day, that day was the worst one of the week. I would wander around, filled with restlessness, not knowing how to be content in moments of tranquility.
Eventually, I started taking walks with the lord. At first I felt like I was walking alone, but then I started to feel his presence. More and more I realized that he was with me on the walks and with me throughout every moment of every day. My friends even started realizing that when I was headed out for a walk, no one else was going to come with me and I would probably be gone for a while. It was Jesus time.
Going back to my original destructive thinking, as much as it disturbed me in the moment, I was just like Israel when they wandered through the desert. They didn’t understand how to have relationship with God, so his presence was not enough. They longed for other gods that they could create, touch, and control. The God of heaven and earth was too much for them. Where was the moment where they learned how to walk with the Lord, where they learned how to hear his voice? It didn’t exist. Instead, they said to Moses, “speak to us yourself and we will listen. But do not have God speak to us or we will die” (Exodus 20:19).
Israel constantly doubted God’s plan for her life and challenged his goodness. “Why did you bring us up out of Egypt to make us and our children and livestock die of thirst” (Exodus 17:3)? They grumbled about God’s supernatural provision of manna and quail and they feared entering the Promised Land. Yet Moses had a completely different mindset. He told God that he would not go into the Promised Land unless God went with them. Moses would rather have stayed in the desert with God than be in the Promised Land without him, whereas Israel would have taken God’s offer to go to the Promised Land without Him. You can see this interaction in Exodus 33:15-17.
The fruit born of Israel’s heart was often made very evident by God. God took Israel out of captivity in Egypt because he could bear it no longer; but then God allowed almost every member of a rebellious generation to die before he brought them into the Promised Land. He gave that generation forty years to learn that relationship with him was what mattered, but they never figured it out. You will inherit the Promised Land only after you first inherit sonship (not gender specific).
Have you been stuck in a desert? Seek Jesus. He will bring you to the Promised Land once you’ve learned to seek him and rely on him. The wealth of the Promised Land will surely mean your death if you haven’t made Christ your pursuit. “Whoever trusts in his riches will fall, but the righteous will thrive like a green leaf” (Proverbs 11:28). The funny thing is that once you’ve reached the Promised Land, that is a sign that you know Jesus. And once you know Jesus, you will realize that the only thing that ever really mattered was relationship with Jesus. You will no longer be enthralled with the beauty of the Promised Land. You will give God praise and thanks for it, but your heart will go out to God, not prosperity.
If I don’t want to pursue Jesus today, why would I want to pursue him tomorrow? “Seek the Lord while he may be found; call on him while he is near” (Isaiah 55:6). Today, I’m choosing to seek intimacy with Jesus.