Summary: Perhaps one of the most humiliating and discouraging experiences we could face is that of being denied upward mobility and advancement in the quest of life. This message deals the danger of staying too long in one condition.
Perhaps one of the most humiliating and discouraging experiences we could face is that of being denied upward mobility and advancement in the quest of life. To be held back, detained, put on hold as a result of our failure to apply ourselves and take seriously the task, challenge or opportunity given to us eats away at our self-esteem and worth as human personalities. For we creatures, who are of the human species, tend to value our worth by our achievements, accomplishments and acts which have advanced our status and social standing among our peers. The greater our progression up the ladder of upward mobility, the greater we tend to value our worth. We tend to equate Progress with Advancement.
But often times we flunk the test, fail to complete a task, take lightly opportunities of a life-time, fail to apply ourselves to courses of study; and as a consequence of which, we often are held back, detained, flunked, fired, put on probation, receive demerits, and are denied advancement. We can relate to the message of that card of the Monopoly Game which says: “Do not go pass Go; go straight to jail.”
How often in life have we experienced Not going past Go! In childhood we experience ‘Time-Out,’ because of our misbehavior; the revoking of TV, game-playing and after-school fun because we take lightly the privilege of responsibility. In our teenage years we are detained, held-back because we allow peer-pressure to minimize the importance of personal priorities; we spend time after school in detention as a result of our inattentiveness. As young adults we are detained, held back because we fail to take seriously that course of study in school that is designed to prepare us to be productive citizens. So we drift from meaningless job to dead-end job. In Middle Age, we flunk the constant tests of our character by yielding to temptation after temptation. And so by the time we reach the Golden years, we become wedded to some wilderness of wasted worth; vaulted by some valley of vanquished vision; detained in some ditch of defeated dreams. How often in life have we experienced Not Going Past Go!
And so, our Text becomes very relevant and reassuring at this point because it reminds us of the fact that THERE IS A GET OUT OF JAIL CARD! The context of verses 1-4 constructs the premise that Israel had been held back for 40 years in Wilderness Detention as a result of their failure to take God seriously. Time after time after time they flunked tests, turned down promotions, failed to seize the moment of opportunity simply because of a lack of total trust in the sufficiency and sovereignty of the Awesome God whom had redeemed them. And so, in verse 2, Moses reminds us that an 11 day journey was extended into a 40 year hiatus. From Mount Horeb or Sinai to Canaan’s fair and happy land was only an 11 day journey; but because of their disobedience, an 11 day journey was extended to 40 years of wandering.
How true to life is that fact. For often-times 11 day journeys are extended into 40 year wanderings. What should have been accomplished in a short time takes years to achieve; which seems to suggest that we tend to find ways to complicate a simple process by our non-compliance. We have this uncanny knack of turning the simple into complexity; the short into long; the easy into difficult; the right into wrong, the obvious into uncertainty.
For often-times in our journey traveling, a trip becomes a trap; a journey becomes a judgment; a tour becomes a test; a travel becomes a travail; an outing becomes an ordeal. Too often A JOURNEY BECOMES A JAM. We become caught in traffic jams of our own making; hemmed in, stalled, detained, kept back, held back, impeded; blocked. Much too often we are caught in TRAFFIC JAMS OF OUR OWN MAKING! And so, a trip or a ride that should have taken us only 30 minutes becomes an hour long ordeal. 11 Day Journeys Become 40 Year Wanderings!
And what is true of us individually and personally also is applicable to a Church. Much too often churches get Caught in Traffic Jams of their own making. For what they should have become or accomplished awhile back is yet out of reach because of their non-compliance with the order of God. And so, an 11 Day Journey Becomes A 40 Year Judgment! They become stalled, hemmed in, detained, kept back, held back, impeded, blocked!!! Zeal for God zeros; love of truth languishes; hunger for souls dissipates; perfect praise turns into pity-parties. Strife, bickering over small things; majoring on minors while the minors become majors; settling for mediocrity and valley living all take center stage when a Church Becomes Caught in a Traffic Jams of its own making.