What’s in Your Tea Bag?

What happens to us when we enter a ‘desert’ time – seasons of our lives when things become difficult and challenging?  Maneuvering through each day becomes a battle and sometimes it seems like we just don’t know which ‘end is up’.  It may seem as though God has yanked the ‘carpet’ out from under us and moved a million miles away.  During this time, life can seem a ‘wasteland’… maybe it’s a relationship that’s become dry (with people or God), financial or personal health issues that seem to overwhelm us.  Whatever the case and however difficult they seem, it is usually these times that will define who we are and where we are going.  A friend told me once, “People are like tea bags, you don’t really know what they are made of until you put them in hot water.”

One of the most classic ‘desert’ experiences in history is found in the Old Testament.  After freeing the Israelites from 400 years of Egyptian slavery,  God promised the them their own land flowing with ‘milk and honey’.  However, a journey that should have only lasted a few short days, ended up taking a long and bitter 40 years!  Like the Israelites, we all go through ‘dry’ times occasionally, but few of us ever experience a 40-year dry spell!  How crazy!!  Why would God do this?  He allowed them to wander in a wretched desert for years because they were not yet ready or able to properly handle the blessing that He was planning to give them. After a series of ‘character tests’ and their subsequent ‘failures’, it was apparent to God that they struggled with being obedient, following directions and trusting Him.

Take a look at the following piece of scripture out of Deuteronomy.

Deuteronomy 8:1-5

1 Carefully obey every command I give you today. Then you will live and grow in number, and you will enter and take the land the Lord promised your ancestors.2 Remember how the Lord your God has led you in the desert for these forty years, taking away your pride and testing you, because he wanted to know what was in your heart. He wanted to know if you would obey his commands.3 He took away your pride when he let you get hungry, and then he fed you with manna, which neither you nor your ancestors had ever seen. This was to teach you that a person does not live on bread alone, but by everything the Lord says.4 During these forty years, your clothes did not wear out, and your feet did not swell.5 Know in your heart that the Lord your God corrects you as a parent corrects a child.

Often, when we are in our own ‘desert’ times, we are so focused on doing whatever we can to get out of it, we struggle to see that God is trying to teach us, grow us and prepare us for what lies next; like in the Israelites case – the Promised Land.  God’s number one priority or plan for us is not our comfort, easy living and a life absent of challenges and difficulties.  His priority for us is to prepare us (by whatever means necessary), for each upcoming ‘season’ of our life.  God created us to love Him and to walk the path He has planned for us.   The challenge can be trusting Him with our future because most of the time, we don’t know what it is and we have to trust God that He always has our best interest in mind.  For the Israelites, He needed to know that He could trust them to properly care for and manage the land He was bringing them into or else they would destroy it and themselves in the process.  God’s love for us compels Him to do His part in preparing us for what lies ahead so that we don’t create havoc in our own lives and the lives of our loved ones.  Thankfully, God is patient with us – after all, it took Israel 40 years to learn to honor, trust and obey Him before entering their Promised Land – in order that their lives and those for generations to come would be prosperous, healthy and blessed in the land He was giving them.  God was more interested in developing good character and integrity in them than He was in keeping them from suffering.

My hope and prayer for all of us is that we would learn from the Israelites!  May it not be said of us that it took 40 years for God to teach us to honor, trust and obey Him.  I wonder sometimes, how many blessings in my own life I’ve missed or those that God is still trying to prepare me for?  I want to be a man who makes it my number one priority to allow God to do His work in me so that He can bring me into the ‘lands’ He has prepared for me.  I want to be mature enough be able to properly manage and care for them – for myself, my family and generations to come.

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

Jeremiah 29:11

  1. […] What’s in Your Tea Bag? (brianhetzer.wordpress.com) […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s