Would that we had died by the hand of the Lord in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the meat pots and ate bread to the full, for you have brought us out into this wilderness to kill this whole assembly with hunger.
A month and a half earlier, the Hebrews were slaves in the land of Egypt. For four hundred years the men had plowed Egyptian fields, the women had nursed the wealthy Egyptian women’s children, and everybody worked together to build Egyptian pyramids. Now they were free.
They were free from toiling over somebody else’s land. They were free from raising their oppressor’s children. They were free from making bricks without straw. In a word, they were free from slavery.
And then the hard part came. Then they had to learn how to live into freedom.
The space between being freed from oppression and learning how to live into the spaciousness of being freed is a frightening place. After all, isn’t this why it is so difficult for us to turn our backs on the things that enslave us? We prefer the oppressor that we know to the vastness of the unknown.
Karl Barth took it a step further when he wrote, “Human freedom is only secondarily freedom from limitations and threats. Primarily it is freedom for.” We were made for each other and for God. We were made for beauty, kindness, goodness, and love.
We can’t expect to live into the freedom that God calls us to in Christ until we see that our primary call is to live life for others. But that kind of a shift in perspective takes time. A lot of time.
The temptation to grumble is always present in the time between promise and provision. It will always seem safer, wiser, and more comfortable to long for the way things used to be.
But the call to freedom is always the call to something more.