Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus!
My deepest desire with this blog is to inspire and encourage you with uplifting words. Over this past month, I’ve had trouble finding the right words, the right message, and have battled my own highs and lows. Enough so that I have struggled to write.
I picture people in New York stuck in tiny apartments. I imagine a dad telling his twins that their mother, a nurse, has lost her fight with Corona. I watch the news. I turn it off. I picture starting a new school having lost some of our beloved members to the Covid19. Then I turn my eyes to the cross, and I cling to the comfort and peace Jesus gives me. Then I repeat. News. Corona. Fear. Jesus. Peace.
God brought this story to my mind today. My prayer is that the story will speak to your heart and point you to our risen Savior this Easter.
“Daddy, I’m hungry. What are we going to eat? When are we going to make camp for the night?” Little Levi’s feet were tired. It seemed as if all they did were make circles in the desert. We just left Mount Hor and have been walking for months. Levi’s feet ached, and all he could think about was setting up camp.
“Soon, little Buddy. God will provide. You remember that stone that gushed water, right?” his dad said, squeezing his tiny shoulder.
“Yes, Daddy. How can I forget? I know all the stories about how God delivered us and can tell them myself now.” Levi began the familiar routine of raising their tent. He and his dad could do this in their sleep. Usually, he loved helping his dad, and sometimes he pretended this was his tent, and he was the man in charge. Today was different, though.
Water from a rock. Where is this water now? The infamous story used to be his favorite and usually brought excitement to his heart. Levi was waiting for the day when he would see a miracle with his own eyes, he wanted to believe and wait for that day, but today, he was tired. Just for a second, he began to doubt that what his parents were telling him was true. Did they make it up to keep us from complaining?
“Come on, Levi…hand me that pole. We don’t have all day. Where are you? Pay attention.” His dad grumbled underneath his breath and shook his head. Levi could sense his frustration. He saw the first star and knew daylight was beginning to fade on them.
Even though Levi knew he should focus more on the task at hand, he let his mind wander to yesterday. He was put in charge of watching his baby sister while the women were unloading the wagons. He heard his uncle’s wife, Anorah, complaining to his mother about there not being enough water and bread for everyone, and what were they going to do?
What really surprised him was his mother’s answer. She put her head down and whispered in a voice so low he wasn’t sure he heard her correctly. He thought she said how could God lead us out here to die of thirst and hunger? His mother was worried. Levi felt that same doubt knocking on his heart. He knew his dad would be disappointed in him and his mom if he knew what they were thinking.
As Levi made his way back to his tent later that night, he saw a crowd of angry men approaching Moses’s tent. He knew he was supposed to go directly back to his tent, but curiosity got the best of him. He followed and hid behind one of the poles.
Everyone was talking at once. Moses meets them at the entrance of his tent. His silence seemed to quiet the crowd. At last, one man stepped forward. “Moses, We are sick of this! Why did you bring us here to die this miserable death? There is no bread! There is no water. We detest this food!” The crowd began to echo the man’s sentiments with angry chants and disgruntled sounds.
Levi’s fist automatically raised in unison with the men. As he turned to look at his fist, he could hear his dad’s voice…God will provide, he always does. Levi dropped his fist and leaned closer to hear Moses’s response. Moses was walking back into his tent. He missed it. What did Moses say? The crowd dispersed, and everyone walked back to their tents for the night.
The Next Morning
“Levi, Levi, wake up!” His mother was crying and holding his baby sister gently rocking her back and forth, stroking her forehead. “Hurry, run to Anorah’s tent and ask her to bring her special salve. Your sister has been bitten by something and is very sick.”
Instantly awake, Levi shot out of the tent and began his mission. Worry and fear started to twist around his heart like vines choking out what little faith he had left. A few steps outside the tent he realized what was happening. It wasn’t just his tent that was having an emergency.
Snakes were slithering between the tents. It was a land mine. Crying and wailing came from many of the tents. Sam’s dad came out of his tent carrying his dead wife. Levi turned and ran back to his family’s tent.
“Daddy, Momma, there are snakes…”
“I know, son, come with me.” His dad had a look of determination on his face. His dad wasn’t the only one approaching Moses’s tent. There was already a large crowd waiting there. He stood by the same pole from the night before and listened to their words. They were crying. “We had sinned when we spoke against the Lord and against you. Please pray to the Lord to take away the snakes. Please!”
Moses returned to the tent to pray.
Levi and his dad walked back to their tent. As they walked, his dad talked. Levi wasn’t sure if he was talking to himself or talking to him. He said things like God will forgive us. God has forgiven us before. He mumbled a few words Levi couldn’t make out, but he was pretty sure it was about his sister and hoping no one else would be bitten by the snakes.
Finally, he turned to Levi taking his hands in his he bent down next to the entrance of their tent and said, “Get ready Levi, I feel confident God is going to save us from these snakes. You are finally going to see some of God’s mighty power with your own eyes. Levi wished he had faith like his dad, but all he felt was cold. He could still see Sam’s dad carrying his wife’s lifeless body.
Levi huddled in one corner and silently hoped and prayed God would forgive him for raising his fist in anger. The snake should have bitten him, not his baby sister. His thoughts were interrupted by the town meeting call. At the blast of the horn, Levi’s dad looked at him and held out his hand. “Come on, Levi, you need to see this.”
Levi grabbed his sandals. This was the first time he had ever been allowed to attend the town meeting. He kissed his sister and his mother and headed off to hear their fate.
Moses was holding a bronze snake high in the air for everyone to see. “You see this snake, I will put it here high on this pole, and if you have been bitten by this snake, then look up here, and you will be healed.” Moses slowly raised the snake into the air.
The vines around his heart loosened, Levi was running back to the tent for his sister.
This story comes from Numbers 21: 4-9, yes, I took a few liberties, but the basic facts are the same. The people sinned against God, God brought a punishment, and then God provided a way to save them. This story used to bother me on many levels. Why would God send snakes? Why would the snake be raised to save them?
This event may have happened so long ago, but I find myself identifying with it so much among our Covid19 outbreak. There is a snake loose, striking fear in everyone’s hearts. A virus snake. Will it bite someone in my family? Will it take the life of someone I know and love? Will it bite me? Those are the questions we are all asking. Only God knows those answers.
But here is what I do know. God has a plan, he always has and always will. His plan may not make sense to me or the world in our finite minds, but God is eternal. The bottom line is God always provides a way to save his people. In Moses’s day, he took a snake and raised it up, all they had to do was look at the snake to be saved. A simple action really. Turn your eyes away from camp to a pole raised high in the air. Today is Easter, and this truth remains the same; all we must do is look to Jesus on the cross, becoming our sin so we might live.
He never promised us a snake wouldn’t come into our camp, but he has provided us the way to beat it. Look to Him with all your heart and soul, and you will be victorious. So the next time your fear gets the better of you seek the comfort of the cross. Unfortunately, there will always be some kind of snake or Corona in our lives and fortunately, the cross conquered it once and for all.