I don’t know if I have heard the words “delayed gratification” lately.
Some people don’t want to delay their gratification. They want what they want and they want it now. They are not willing to hold out for more.
Let’s skip the starter home. I want the dream home as my first home.
I don’t want to drive the old beater for a few years; I want the fancy new car right now.
Working at a fast food business as my first job is not going to cut it; I would rather not work at all if all I do all day is flip burgers.
John Bevere spends the better part of Chapter 6 in his book writing about the choices of a young man who was willing to wait for the best.
He writes about Moses.
As kids, most of us were introduced to Moses. We know the story of his adoption in Pharaoh’s home, his grooming as a prince. He had the best of everything, yet it was not what he really wanted.
He wanted to be in the presence of God and he was willing to hold out for it.
He had skipped the starter home, he had the fanciest chariot and he had a dream job: little work and people around him to take care of his every need, but he wanted more. In Hebrews it says “By faith, Moses, when grown, refused the privileges of the Egyptian royal house. He chose a hard life with God’s people rather than an opportunistic soft life…[11: 24-25 from The Message]. He was holding out for his great reward. He wanted to be in the presence of God.
To the people of his day, this seemed illogical. What better circumstances could a person have than living in the Egyptian royal court? To many this was utopia, yet he wanted to lead his people out of Egypt to face the times of wandering in the wilderness, “no beautiful valleys, streams, forests, fruit trees…no markets, shopping, new clothing…a strange bread that appears on the ground six days a week and periodically some quail for meat” [Bevere, 78-79]. The Israelites did not have the easy life of Moses; they were slaves used to build for their Egyptian masters, but now Moses has led them to a new life, a life of deprivation in a hard land [but at least they were not slaves].
They weren’t happy. The strange bread every day got boring and they did not see that they were headed to any better life situation. They began to grumble. Some even said that it would be best to return to slavery under Pharoah.
But there was a promise. God said that they would be rewarded by life in a land of promise, the land of Canaan [rich and fertile, overflowing with abundance]. There would even be a warrior angel who would protect them from all foes.
Can you imagine what the people were thinking? Wow, now we can have beautiful houses of our own. We can have our own culture and we will be able to pass on our inheritance to our children. Finally, we have hope, but there is one thing standing in our way: Moses.
God tells Moses to lead the people into the Promised Land but He is not going to go. Moses replies “If Your Presence does not go with us, do not bring us up from here.” He chooses the desert with God over the Promised Land without God. What was going on? He knows that having God’s presence was more valuable than any material thing that could be provided. His choice was not easy but it was right. He chose continued deprivation over a much easier life. He was willing to delay gratification.
How many would make his choice? Probably very few. He faced tremendous pressure from his people to get them to a better situation but he held out for more. He wanted the best. He wanted the promised land and he wanted God. He also believed that God would eventually get his people to the Land of Canaan and God did.
Have you ever heard the old expression “a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush?” If we can extend this metaphor, Moses would have had faith that the real blessing was in the bush. I know that Moses is not in this expression but if he was, he probably would believe that there were two birds in the bush. More than that, he had seen God in the burning bush and absolutely nothing topped that. He wanted the best. He wanted an authentic relationship with God.
He was willing to wait. He was willing to delay gratification. He knew the best life was a life with God.
*Good or God?