“And Moses sent to call Dathan and Abiram the sons of Eliab, and they said, “We will not come up. Is it a small thing that you have brought us up out of a land flowing with milk and honey, to kill us in the wilderness, that you must also make yourself a prince over us?” (Numbers 16:12-13)
The mind is an amazing yet tricky thing. Although the brain’s exact storage capacity for memories is quiet difficult to calculate, its storage centers, neurons, are numerous. It is said that the human brain consists of about one billion neurons. Each neuron connects to an estimated 1,000 other neurons. Consequently, the brain has billions of connections between neurons and as neurons combine, they assist each other and significantly increase the brains memory capacity. Yet, this amazing, God-created process did not escape the taint of the fall for it is not without flaw. The creation of false memories is a well-documented and studied event. Using certain stimulus, a psychological professional can even implant a fictional memory which the person cannot distinguish from a factual one.
It seems that in the book of Numbers this phenomenon was taking place. God’s chosen people had been freed from bondage, from the hands of the Pharaoh and brought out to journey to the Promised Land. One would think that an air of gratitude would permeate the people. Yet, through this journey, numerous persons responded with attitudes of anger and disappointment. In the sixteenth chapter, two brothers remember the land of Egypt as a “land flowing with milk and honey.” These men, and those who chose to follow them, colored the past. They remembered Egypt as a wonderful and lovely land. They fail to recall the slavery and their prayers of distress (Exodus 3:7).
In this narrative, some of the people wanted to return to the past for it was known. As times became difficult those past trouble seems to become mere annoyances. Why? Because, as the old saying goes, it is better to deal with the devil you know than the devil you don't know. It was easier for some of the Israelites to color the past for its familiarity was comforting. In doing this, those Israelites denied that God had something better planned. They were willing to settle.
As Christians, we over and over again fall into this trap and fail to remember correctly. We too often want to take the path of least resistance. We want to just continue in our ways. In doing so, we saying God does not have a bigger plan for our lives. In doing so, we remember a past which may or may not reflect reality. This is not to say that we should forget or ignore the past… for we are who we are because of the past. Yet, let us hark back to a truthful past, one in which the battle between good and evil was as difficult as it is today. And let us look to the future… to a time when God will bring bigger and better things.
Bothers and sisters, as we journey to next stage in the story of our churches and lives, let us look forward to what God will do and not only what God has done!