The Lord our God said to us in Horeb, You have dwelt long enough on this mountain. Tum and take up your journey and go to the hill country of the Amorites…. Behold, I have set the land before you; go in and take possession of the land which the Lord swore to your fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give to them and to their descendants after them.
Those of us who are parents know these words so well: “In a minute. Just a little longer.” We call our children to leave their playing and come inside, but they want just a little more time to stay out with their friends. For now, at least, they’re content playing and don’t want to think about getting cleaned up or eating dinner. It’s always, “Just a little longer”—if we let them. And at times, we adults act a little like those children who cry out, “Just a little longer.”
I’ve met miserable people—those who disliked their lives, hated their jobs, or were in intolerable relationships with the wrong kind of people. They knew they were miserable, but they did nothing about it. “Just a little longer.” A little longer for what? More pain? More discouragement? More unhappiness?
Those are the people who have what I call the wilderness mentality. I want to explain that. Moses led the people of Israel out of Egypt. If they had obeyed God, stopped their grumbling, and moved straight ahead as God originally told them, they could have made the trip in eleven days. But it took them forty years.
Why did they finally leave? Only because God said, “You have dwelt long enough on this mountain.” If God hadn’t pushed them into the Promised Land, I wonder how long they would have stayed and longed to cross the Jordan.
They were people in bondage. Although they had seen miracles in Egypt and had praised God at the defeat of the Egyptian armies at the Red Sea, they were still in bondage. The chains were no longer on their bodies, but they had never removed those chains from their minds. That is the wilderness mentally.
For forty years, they grumbled. They had no water, and then God provided it for them. They grumbled about the food. Manna was all right, but they wanted meat of some kind. No matter what the situation, they were still mental prisoners. As they had been in Egypt, so they were in the wilderness. No matter how good things became, they were never good enough. They had forgotten all the hardships and slavery in Egypt, and every time they were dissatisfied with Moses’ leadership they moaned, “Oh, if only we had stayed in Egypt.” They had forgotten how bad things were; they had no vision for how good things could get. When they had the chance to move into the new land, they were afraid. “There are giants in the land,” they cried out. They had seen God’s deliverance in the past, but they weren’t ready for it in the present.
Finally God said, “Okay; it’s time to move out.” The Bible doesn’t tell us about their attitude, but there’s no reason to believe it had changed. I can imagine they cried out, “Let’s stay just a little longer. Things aren’t good here, but we know how to live in the wilderness. We are afraid to leave this place. We have become used to it.”
If you don’t like your life, but you won’t make the effort to change, you may have a wilderness mentality. If your mind stays filled with negative thoughts, they will keep you in bondage.
However, you can do something about it. You don’t have to waste any more time. You can say, “I’ve dwelt long enough on this mountain. Now I’m going into the Promised Land—the land where I’ll live in victory and defeat Satan’s plans.”
Great God, help me cast off the wilderness mentality. Help me take on the Promised Land mentality and live in victory, through Jesus Christ. Amen.