Acts 7:39 – [Moses] whom our fathers would not obey, but rejected. And in their hearts they turned back to Egypt
What has your heart?
I’ve been asking myself this question a lot lately, trying to find God and His peace in the chaos and confusion that is life. Then I read Acts 7:39 during a morning devotional.
Stephen is preaching to the religious leaders, reminding them of their unfaithfulness throughout the generations despite God’s continued and obvious goodness. He is talking about the group that came out of Egypt, whose hearts never let go of their slavery. They never turned to God with their fears and doubts. They never trusted God with their well-being and daily provision. They never tuned into God being with them, God being for them, and God being good to them.
They “rejected” all of God’s grace.
They “rejected” all of God’s love.
They “rejected” all of God’s goodness.
Because they were “… people who go astray in their hearts, And they do not know My ways” (Psalm 95:10). They did not know God because they refused to know God. It was a deliberate choice they made every day.
And when I consider what is in my heart – what I believe is true, what I want, what I am seeking, what holds my affections – I have to wonder what part of God I am rejecting and which of His ways I am refusing.
So I ask some hard questions.
– Am I seeking the Father and His will to find my true self? Or am I seeking fame and recognition to feel accepted and loved?
– Am I seeking to be generous, looking for ways to give? Or am I taking what I want and stealing the enthusiasm from the room?
– Am I feeling content with my blessings and His provision, which is more than enough? Or am I feeling cheated and overlooked because I think I am missing out on something (good)?
– Am I choosing to edify and encourage people, bringing good and positivity into their day? Or am I complaining and criticizing, hurting hearts and dampening spirits?
When I am honest with myself, I am usually not on the God side of myself. Instead, I am allowing myself to be controlled by my emotions, to be dragged in so many directions that I cannot find a way of release. And then the devil has me right where he wants me – DISTRACTED.
So I am not able to focus on God – His love, His goodness, His grace.
So I am not able to see God – His provision, His strength, His endurance.
So I am not able to adjust my thinking, speaking, and reacting.
So I am not able to concentrate on His guidance, His direction, and His instruction.
So I am focused on me and only me. What will make me happy. What will make me feel loved and appreciated. What will make my life better. And your problems? I don’t the time or compassion for them. Because I am distracted by what I want, need, and feel – it’s all about me.
Just like Israel. Despite seeing God protect them from 10 devastating plagues, they refused to trust. Despite seeing God deliver every one of them alive out of slavery – plus giving them provision to establish their new lives – in one night, they refused to believe. Despite seeing God deliver them again on the dry land of the Red Sea and destroy the Egyptian army with one big wave, they refused to hope.
God was with them. God was for them. In so many ways they could see – because He moved in physical ways among them. Yet seeing never produced trusting. Seeing never produced hoping for another move or miracle. Seeing never produced believing all would be well because God was with them.
They refused to let go of the slavery they hated and once cried out about. They refused to let their slavery mindset and attitudes go – so they could embrace God and His possibilities. They refused to see or embrace God’s goodness and blessings toward them.
“In their hearts they turned back to Egypt”, choosing to hold onto their struggles – instead of embracing God’s salvation. Because they had hard hearts. And those hard hearts led to a hard life where God spent 40 years giving them a chance to change. And each challenge saw them cry out for Egypt – the same Egypt that spent centuries trying to destroy them – instead of crying out to God – who had protected them through those years from annihilation.
It breaks my heart. I am sad because they never got how good God is or how much He blessed them.
But at the same time, it encourages my heart.
I am encouraged because God loved them despite their hard hearts.
Because God kept trying to help them change – and provided for them through their struggles.
Because God kept giving them another chance to do better.
And God does not change. So that means God loves me despite my stubborn streak and foolish heart. That means God is with me, giving me the opportunity to change – and the wisdom to know how to do better. That means God won’t give up on me!
We all have an Egypt – that old habit, old attitude, old relationship, old mindset – we turn to when things get tough. Hoping it will make us feel better, feel able, and feel confident. Even when we know it is not God’s best for us, we still seek it out. Needing the comfort we think it gives.
What is your Egypt?
Stop letting it own you.
Stop letting it distract you.
Stop letting it steal your grace.
God had so much He gave Israel while they continued to cling to Egypt. Consider how much more He had waiting to give them if they chose to trust Him!
I don’t want to be Israel and miss out on God’s best life.
Because I am distracted by Egypt.
Because I am drawn back to Egypt.
Because I am devoted to Egypt.
But pursuing God’s best means I have to choose to stop leaning on and looking to my Egypt – and choose to lean into His love and look to His wisdom.
Pursuing God’s best means I have to choose to stop turning to my Egypt, expecting comfort it cannot give – and choose to find compassion and strength in God’s care.
Pursuing God’s best means I have to choose to stop thinking I know what is best for me – and choose to follow His lead, knowing all His plans lead to good and growth.
So again I ask, what is your Egypt? What has a death grip on your heart? What is keeping you from having God’s best?
It’s time to send your Egypt back to the desert, buried deep in the sand once and for all. And when you do, your heart will be open and able to experience the Promised Land God has waiting for you.
Thank You for never giving up on us! No matter what. Thank You for being for us. Help us today to be wise enough to call our Egypt by name and then brave enough to let it go. Help us know what we need to change in order to experience Your best life. Help us be consistent in chasing You and Your good plans instead of being distracted by the death tolls of our Egypt. Thank You for the strength to keep going forward and to keep trying, no matter what we face. Thank You for giving us the hope that You are always with us and for us. In Jesus’ almighty name. AMEN!
Marie Fremin. 6/6/19, 6/7/19