Building People of Substance for Works of Power
“Or else, if you will not let My people go, behold, I will send swarms of flies on you and your servants, on your people and into your houses. The houses of the Egyptians shall be full of swarms of flies, and also the ground on which they stand. And in that day I will set apart the land of Goshen, in which My people dwell, that no swarms of flies shall be there, in order that you may know that I am the LORD in the midst of the land. I will make a difference between My people and your people. Tomorrow this sign shall be.” ‘ “Exodus 8:21-23 NKJV
Just before the last cold snap I noticed a fly in my kitchen. Not terribly unusual, but irritating. I was in the process of preparing lunch, and the fly was obviously hungry, making repeated forays toward my prep board. I took several swipes at him with my hand, but his radar was excellent. He survived, disappearing then appearing again over my pot of peas. I resorted to my mom’s favorite weapon, waving the cup towel at him as he attacked. Still, he roamed free. Finally, I went for the fly swatter that hangs from a nail by the door, then I lay in wait. He made one last fatal assault, landing on the edge of the sink where he met his fate. Unfortunately, distracted by the fly, I allowed my peas to very nearly boil dry. I rescued them, but it was a near miss.
This episode reminded me of one of my wife’s proverbs: “God, if you’ll take care of the flies, I’ll take care of the elephants.” The point is that we get distracted from the big, important things in life by the little things that “bug” us daily. Indeed, my mission to provide high quality, healthy nutrition was almost lost in the battle to kill one stupid fly. You get the point.
The people of Israel were given Goshen as their haven in the middle of Egypt. It’s name means the land of drawing near. That is such a wonderful picture of what God wants to provide for us. Notice in verse 22, God told Pharoah that in the day of the flies, God’s people would be “set apart.” It means separated, marked as different. No flies. In verse 23, He says that He will “make a difference” between Israel and Egypt, God’s people and Pharaoh’s. The word means to redeem, or make distinct. You get the point: No flies for the people of God who dwell in the land of drawing near. He says that this difference will be a sign.
We live in a fly-ridden world. There are wars and diseases and economic crises and social eruptions on every newscast. The flies of fear and worry and anger are buzzing around us constantly. Yet, as the People of God, we are supposed to live in a no-fly zone, in our own New Testament version of Goshen. How does that work? A few thoughts:
- Quit chasing the flies, and quit feeling guilty that you have so many fly-thoughts to chase. I was taught to take every thought captive. I suppose that’s a good thing, but I found that I spent a lot of energy dealing with avarice, resentment, lust, etc. The sheer volume was overwhelming. Sure, you want to keep them off your mind, but if you fight flies you get tired and distracted. There are just too many of them! The flies get the bulk of your attention, and that’s just wrong. Instead, try this:
- Keep your camp clean. Flies breed in untended filth. Don’t let your garbage pile up. Clean your attitudes. Live in forgiveness. Don’t spend your time and money on the things the world exalts. Don’t let nasty stuff lay around and rot. Close the digital and human windows that bring flies in from the outside. Close the doors, clean the camp. Less garbage, fewer flies.
- Stay in Goshen. The promise is that He will keep you in perfect peace (fly-free) if your mind is fixed on Him. (Isaiah 26:3) The promise is not “quit thinking about bad stuff and you’ll have peace.” Peace is based on what you look at, not what you avoid.
Staying in Goshen and living fly-free is the product of mental discipline. First, learning to guard your heart, then training your mind to think on the good and the pure. We all know the phrase, “My mind was wandering.” That’s exactly what happens: we let it go where it wants. Mental discipline learns to grab it and bring it back to focus. When you catch your mind wandering off, chasing flies, head back to Goshen – Draw near! Think on His goodness, speak of His love, remember what He’s done for you and what He has asked you to do for Him. Selah. I guarantee, as you begin to do these things, your brand-new attitude will be a sign and a wonder!
Scripture Reading: “do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.Philippians 4:6-8 ESV
Somebody Said: “Every day is a gift from God. Learn to focus on the Giver and enjoy the gift!” Joyce Meyer
Here’s the Point: Most of us live with our minds buzzing over a thousand things. Swarms of thoughts zoom through and drag our attention away with them. No problem is ever solved because another one intervenes. The noise varies from a low, electric hum to a jet-engine roar, but for many it never completely stops. That’s not God’s best. We live in the land of Goshen, close to God, separated and distinct from the Egyptian chaos around us. Stop putting up with the flies, accepting them as the norm. Start taking steps to get them out of your Goshen. Shut the windows that let them in, clean up the spiritual and emotional debris they feed on, and learn to set you mind on Jesus, His Word, His Work, and His purposes. When you focus on Him, His presence vaporizes every fly. Try it.