“WISDOM OF LIVING (22): IS LIFE BORING?”          Pastor Yau           

Numbers 11:4-15; Exodus 16:1-31                                  April 10, 2005                            

 

INTRODUCTION:  Boredom is one of the most common complaints of life for many. People find life itself and things related to it boring or uninteresting. We feel bored with our jobs, schools, our church, our daily routine, our family including spouse and children. Some get bored with things and possessions which they used to feel proud of. Kids get bored easily with their new toys, games and name-brand clothing only after a couple of weeks. Students feel bored of going to school, doing endless homework, taking all the tests and writing all the papers. We grumble because we feel that what we have is not what we want or need. We want something different, something new, something unusual to create excitement. This frustration or boredom of the sameness or routine has been true of the human spirit since the beginning of history. You are not the only one to feel that way.

      In the text we use for today’s message, the people of Israel mounted a huge protest against God and Moses on the food He provided them in the wilderness.  In the middle of their exodus journey, the Israelites ran out of food and God provided them a special kind of food the people called it manna. (Exodus 16:1-31) No one knows what it really was. It was white like coriander seed and tasted like wafers made with honey (16:31). When dews settled on the camp at night, manna also came down. The people of Israel were so thankful to have food.

       But after having had manna day after day, the Israelites were sick and tired of it so they complained to Moses and God the monotony of the food. They wanted something different, better, more exciting. Then they compared manna with the varieties of food they used to enjoy in Egypt and they cried out to Moses and God for a change. This complaint caused great pain to Moses that he asked God to let him die so he won’t have to carry the burden of leading these rebellious people. (Num. 11:10-15) It also caused anger from God that He sent fire to the camp.

 

WHAT HAS GONE WRONG? 

1)      They had their priority mixed up:  The priority of the exodus was to relieve the Israelites from the bondage of slavery so they could fulfill the promise of God to have their own nation and worship their God. This was the biggest step God had planned for the nation of Israel from which the Messiah would come. To the people of Israel and the whole world, this is the supreme purpose God had for mankind. Now they were more concern of the kind of food they missed and wanted. Their hearts were filled with the needs of the fresh instead of fulfilling the purpose of God. They focused on the physical and temporal needs instead of the spiritual and eternal purpose of God.

2)      They had chosen to follow the wrong crowd:  The revolt started by the rabbles in their midst and it soon spread to the rest of the people. The rabbles were non-Israelites, people of secular purpose and pagan religions. These were people of other nations who were captured by the Egyptians in wars. They took advantage of the exodus and left Egypt with the Israelites. They had no intention of worshipping Jehovah, the God of Israel. They followed secular values and practices. They were trouble makers. They tend to look after their own interests instead of the interests and the unity of others. When they started to complain on the boring of manna compared to the kinds of food they had in Egypt, the people of Israel were greatly influenced and they joined the rabbles in their complaint. The Israelites had a true leader, Moses, and they should have followed him. But for the selfish and temporary needs of food, they ganged up with the wrong people and the wrong reason. We have seen many otherwise strong and capable Christians failed in their growth of faith and spiritual service because they have turned to follow people and values of the world instead of God.

3)      They were ungrateful of God’s provision:  This is the same sin committed by Eve and Adam in the Garden of Eden. They were unhappy of what they had all the trees and their fruits. They were    not grateful of what God had provided. They had despised God and His wisdom by despising manna. They complained that their souls were dried away and there was nothing except manna. (Num. 11:6, KJV) In fact, they survived the desert and all the 40 years in the wilderness by manna.  People, both ancient and present, are tempted to want more, want different, better, or anything they still don’t have. They seldom are happy with what God has provided. They often times doubt if God has their best interest in mind because He doesn’t give them what their hearts’ desire. We need to affirm the goodness of God and His love for us. He knows exactly what we need, may not what we want. When men go ahead to acquire things God didn’t provide, often times, they got into lots of trouble and pain than they had first imagined as did Adam and Eve. The Israelites also had badly hurt the hearts of Moses and God.

 

THE BENEFITS OF ROUTINES: Most of us, if not all, live our lives in a more or less monotonous routine. We do things in our lives again and again and day in and day out. Few may live in excitements all the time. Glamour is a rare commodity and it should be treasured and kept for special occasions. There are many good reasons in routines of life:

1)       Routine brings growth: Growing is a quiet process and it usually happens in routines. God designs to grow a baby in the hidden place of the womb for 9 months before he/she is born. Trees grow their rings in years on the inside as human bodies grow thru the years on a slow process of metabolism. It is thru faithful attendance of classes, doing assignments, writing paper after paper, reading pages after pages of books, students learn to be proficient in the areas of their pursuit. Few people get most of their needed nutrition by having banquets everyday. Instead, they have daily ordinary meals from which they draw their supplies to the body. Plants need to have months of routine growth to bloom and/or fruition. It is the quiet routines that build the foundation or basis of almost everything. When routines are interrupted, growth suffers loss and life may come to an end.

2)       Routine tests commitment and character:   Since true commitment and character are best tested in time, routines are a necessary process. Most people are able to work hard, perform well and show good results in shorter period of time. It is those who are committed will stay through the thick and the thin, good day as well as bad or bored days. This is especially true in their commitment to God, church, career, education and marriage. We live in a society of consumer mindset. People tend to jump from job to job, relationship to relationship, even church to church for the feel of newness. All they have in mind is what may benefit them. They have little or no respect of character or commitment, much less self sacrifice for the good of others. It is those who are willing to sustain the routines, to stay thru the ups and down, these are the people who will be called “good and faithful” by God.

3)       Routine grooms leaders:  It was not the exciting and glamorous life in Pharaoh’s palaces where Moses was  groomed to lead the Israelites out of Egypt to the Promised Land. God chose the Median Desert as the training ground and the routines of tending sheep as classroom lessons to mode Moses into a great leader in history. David learned most of his skills in conquering enemies while he was a shepherd boy. Before Jesus made major decisions, such as choosing the Twelve, he spent long hours in the solitude of the mountain in prayers. Paul spent 3 years in the Arabian Desert before God could make him to be one of the greatest disciples in Christian history. Many of the giants in Christian history went through years of doing things many may consider as routine and boring. Yet it is in the routines, in the faithful discharging of everyday duties, God modes us to become better. It is in those never ending quiet hours of praying, studying, meditating, organizing of thoughts, writing and re-writing, sermons that touch people souls were written and presented. It is in the quiet routines we grow the best as children of God.

 

TAKE CHARGE ON ROUTINES: No one may ever live and grow without going through repetitive routines. The kind of attitude we hold will determine the level of happiness and success our lives may turn out to be. Here are a few suggestions:

1)      Be happy with what you have: No one may ever have all he wants to have. It is wise to enjoy what you already have and be thankful to the Lord. Even if you may have everything the world may offer and your heart may desire, but by then you may say you want the moon. If you can’t be happy with what you have, you are just can’t be happy at all because there is no end to what you want. Thank God for your family, the opportunity of good education, the job you hold and the church you worship and grow. There are millions out there who have much less than what you have. Be content.

2)      Be diligent on your routine duties:  All giant structures were built one brick at a time. It is by laying each brick repetitively buildings were built. Do your best in the daily routines will bring great results and satisfaction in due time. In a documentary after Michelle Kwan won the world title and the silver medal in figure skating at the Winter Olympics, Michelle spent thousands of hours in repetitive routine practice, oftentimes all by herself, that refined her skill and instilled her charm that brought her to the top in her pursuit of ice-skating. Few achieve success by luck. Most people get there by diligently discharging their everyday routine duties.

3)      Enjoy the ride of life:  Someone portrayed life as a cross country train ride say from New York to Los Angeles. The trip will take you passing by city after city, town after town, tunnel after tunnel and bridge after bridge. Miles and miles of railroad have passed but more still lying ahead. If all you want is to get to LA, you will waste all the fun of riding a train, the opportunity of getting to know your fellow passengers---companions of your life in that event, miss all the awesome scenery of mountains, rivers, farming villages and the vast plain in the heartland. Life is not just about getting there. It is also about the process, the ride that counts.

 

CONCLUSION:  Complaints will never get your life better. It can only get worse.   The complaints the Israelite mounted against God and Moses didn’t change anything. They still have to eat manna for the rest of the 40 years. Their complaints only brought great pain to their leader, Moses, and anger from God. God sent fire from heaven to burn their camps and it was stopped short at the edge of the camps only after their repentance and the heart plead of Moses.

       After the fall of Adam and Eve, life on earth has changed forever. Labor, pain, sweat, weeds and thistles, failures and drudgery, pitfalls and setbacks are just a few of human experience. This is a BAD world full of disappointments and misery.

       But God has promised to be with those who call on Him. Jesus said, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28) You will receive abundant grace and strength from God to continue your life journey if you ask Him to come into your heart today.