As my eyes opened this morning, I thought back to the incredible experience we had at Camp Jackson. Today marks a week since our last day of camp and I still found myself following a new ritual I adopted since coming home.
Think back to the last time you lost your voice. I mean really lost it. There’s always that initial moment, when you first wake up, where you aren’t sure if your voice has improved throughout the night; you haven’t made a sound yet. So there I am this morning making some noise between a yawn and a croak as I test the new integrity of my voice. It was only then I realized it had taken a full week for my voice to recover.
Let me tell you though, a sore throat is an insignificant sacrifice to make for an encounter with the glory of God. I appreciate the reminder, actually.
At first glance, it may seem weird to say that we need a reminder of what God has done. You may find yourself asking, “Well, won’t it change you? If they had a genuine encounter, won’t they come out different on the other side?“
This was a question I found myself asking ALL THE TIME several years ago. I had worked myself into a mental and spiritual block. I would see someone worshiping God one night. Then, I would see the same person weeks or months later acting like a different person. Then, there I would be, asking the same question. “If they got their heart right with God on that night, wouldn’t they be different now?”
In the end, this mental conflict only hindered me. Looking at others, only prevented me from seeing that my heart was inclined to the same tendency. A real encounter with the Holy Spirit doesn’t mean that our flesh won’t try to take center stage as the focus again. We have to be deliberate but we can keep Jesus at the center. We just need a reminder.
We are all familiar with the Old Testament story of God freeing the Israelites from Egypt. I know we all know it by heart, but here are the highlights to the end of this section of scripture:
- After God inflicts 10 plagues on Egypt, Pharaoh relents and lets the Israelites go (Ex. 12:31-32).
- The Israelites are led to the Red Sea (Ex. 13:17-18).
- Shortly after the Israelites leave the land, Pharaoh changes his mind and gives chase with his army (Ex. 14:5-6).
- Moses stretches his staff and hand over the sea which God splits (Ex. 14:15-16).
- The Israelites cross on dry ground (Ex. 14:21-22).
- And their pursuing enemies are crushed by the waters of the sea (Ex. 14:23-27).
Glory to God! And this is exactly what the Israelites say, too! These events take place at the end of Exodus 14 and the first 21 verses of Exodus 15 are a song of praise to the Lord.
Now, with this context in mind, let’s look at what takes place directly after this song of praise starting in Ex. 15:22-24:
22 Then Moses made Israel set out from the Red Sea, and they went into the wilderness of Shur. They went three days in the wilderness and found no water. 23 When they came to Marah, they could not drink the water of Marah because it was bitter; therefore it was named Marah. 24 And the people grumbled against Moses, saying, “What shall we drink?”
I don’t think that anyone would argue that what the Israelites experienced only 3 days prior was a genuine encounter with God, right? I encourage you to go read the first 21 verses of this chapter as well. It is a beautiful song of praise to God about His triumph, majesty, glory, and conquest over their enemies.
Yet, here they are, only three days and three verses later, grumbling (or complaining). After walking across the dry sea floor only 3 days ago, even the Israelites needed a reminder of what God had done. This is a pattern that you will see repeated so often throughout the Bible.
So then, what do we do? How are we supposed to keep ourselves reminded and focused at all times on the goodness of God?
Here are a few things that you could start doing today to keep your mind focused on the One who really matters:
- Read your Bible – We have to know the Word of God. This requires purposeful studying and meditating on what you read (Joshua 1:8).
- Devote yourself to prayer – Do you have time devoted to prayer in your daily life? In our modern world, we can be distracted by so many things. I would challenge you to create a distraction-free space in your home dedicated to prayer and set time aside every day to use that space to talk to God and listen for His voice (Matthew 6:6).
- Make wrong things right – This one doesn’t always feel as good at first. If you said or did anything that you feel the Holy Spirit convicting you about, simply contact the person involved and make it right. It takes humility, yes, but it’s worth it (Matthew 5:23-24).
- Build relationships with mature believers – It is so important to have a relationship with a mature believer who can speak into your life and listen when you have things you need to discuss or confess. God understood this need when He made us. He didn’t create us to keep things bottled up inside and fight this fight on our own (James 5:16).
This is not a comprehensive list by any means but these are some things that you could begin doing right now to train your eyes and heart on God.
Have you ever found yourself off-track after what you thought was a turning-point encounter with God? Don’t be discouraged. You still have the opportunity to make sure that Jesus Christ is the number one priority in your daily walk.
I would love to hear about some of the things that you do to keep your mind focused on Jesus. Let me know down in the comments!