We all go through many and varied stages on the journey of life. There are no detours around them.

Looking back ... looking ahead. I look back over all the years, at the potholes along the road, and I marvel at what God has brought us through; and how He has revealed Himself in the process. Then I look a head and I could choose to be overwhelmed by perplexity and fear.

Moses mentioned about 40 stages (Numbers 33) in a 40-year journey for the Israelites, that could have been covered in 11 days (Deuteronomy 1:2). It took them a long time to learn and we are often like them. God is patient; He wants us to fully enter in, He continues to bring us to stages where choices can be made and character can be built.

Each stage will end but the journey of life continues. Every stage, even the most difficult, can enrich the journey if we determine not to miss what God has planned and prepared in the stages of life, knowing He has only our good in mind.

At Marah the Israelites quickly forgot the Red Sea miracle and began to murmur without even considering what God might do if they would simply let Him.

At Elim there were 12 springs of water and 70 palm trees. A beautiful oasis; a place of complacency where they'd like to stay, to cop-out on responsibility and obedience. But God has designed that the journey goes on.

In the Wilderness of Sin their unthankfulness led to complaining that God had made a mistake in delivering them from Egypt and that death would have been preferable! They forgot the glory and thought only of their appetites.

At Sinai their impatience led to idolatry.

As they journeyed from Mount Hor they became depressed and discouraged because of the trials of the way.

On the plains of Moab instead of witnessing to the people, they settled down among them and soon bowed down to their gods.

These are just a few of their many stages, most of them wasted, but what a wealth of learning for us.

Through it all we observe Moses who had neither whining nor self-pity. His concern was for God's glory in His people.

What about us? Are the stages of our lives marked by murmuring, complacency, unthankfulness, complaining, impatience, self-sins, discouragement, idolatry, etc?

Our attitudes in the stages are so much more important than the stages themselves.

As we begin to experience Ecclesiastes 12, the stages get more painful, more filled with loss and sadness and physical uncertainty. We find that they are not the "golden years" after all.

But yet ... but yet ... is not every stage of life a gift? Will we grasp the opportunity at every stage to flourish in God's garden or mar the stages with the weeds of grumbling? After all, the most important and still obtainable prize at every stage in the journey of life, is that God be glorified and that we don't waste anything He allows. He did not allow it in order to waste it.

If a particular stage causes us to go through God's winepress where the grapes are crushed, it need not detract but can actually add to the sweet fragrance and shining glory of His Presence. All things considered, whatever stage we're at, isn't our deepest yearning for the holy brightness of His Presence and to be more like Jesus?

So, let's go on to the next stage with anticipation.

For the Israelites then and for us now, the stages and circumstances of life are engineered by God and are tests of our loyalty to the Lord. If, like the Israelites, I do not recognize that God has ordered the circumstances and do not see what He is after, that particular thing will not be repeated all the days of my life. The most important thing is that we enthrone the Lord Jesus by intense loyalty to Him and learn to worship in the trying circumstances.

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