Today we tackle the second part of our four part series entitled The Circle Maker. Last week we were introduced to the legend of the Circle Maker and we talked about the story of the battle of Jericho and God’s unusual battle plan and how sometimes God calls us to follow him even when it makes no sense and also that God may be calling us to pray and wrestle with our Jerichos. Things so big that if they come to fruition that it is only because of Gods intervention.
Today we are looking at dreaming big, risk and prayer together. We will revisit Honi the Circle Maker for a little bit, share about another person who took risks and trusted in God’s direction, and look at another person in Scripture that prayed and trusted that God would provide in a huge way for the people of Israel.
Last week we talked about Honi drawing a circle, kneeling in the circle and praying until rain came, and then stayed in it until the rain became not just a trickle, not just a downpour, but a soaking rain that soaked into the earth as well as soaking into the people’s faith. Honi stated that he wouldn’t leave the circle until it rained. He had no escape clause. He had no expiration date. He drew a circle and not a line or a semi circle with a way out. He was willing to look foolish and I believe faith is the willingness to look foolish to a watching world. Honi drew a huge circle. In fact, the bigger the circle you draw, the bigger the prayers, the more foolish you feel. But if you aren’t willing to step out of the boat, you won’t walk on water.
If you aren’t willing to put your feet out of the boat, and take a risk you may never see a miracle. Someone who literally stepped out into the water of the unknown, prayed a huge prayer, and trust God was a man named Brendan. Or we may know him as St. Brendan. St Brendan of Clonfert – who is more well know as St Brendan the Navigator set sail with a group of Monks from the Dingle peninsula in a Currach. or Coracle... they drifted free at the mercy of the wind and the whim of the waves – in the will of God. They are said to have visited the northern Isles of Scotland, The Faeroe islands, Iceland and eventually Newfoundland.Picture yourself in the place of Brendan... staring across the ocean toward the horizon.. the edge of your known world... the unknown... maybe there are distant lands across the sea... maybe there is nothing... only God knows!
See yourself standing at the wooden jetty, in front of you a feeble looking boat, made of unseasoned wood and leather, smeared all over in animal grease to seal it from the waves... in the bottom of the craft there lies a roll of leather, there to patch the unavoidable leaks and tears. The boat continuously slams into the jetty bruising the leather as the swell of the great western ocean throws it around... who knows, maybe the waves themselves are returning from those far off shores. Shores which at this time are simply a glimpse of the possible, a dream of what might be out there beyond the horizon.
Deep inside you hear a call – “SET SAIL”, a secret voice heard only in your heart “SET SAIL INTO THE UNKNOWN”...a stirring on the edge of the wind “SET SAIL INTO THE UNKNOWN, STEP OFF THE EDGE OF YOUR WORLD”... an echo of stones dragged along the beach by the tide “SET SAIL INTO THE UNKNOWN, STEP OFF THE EDGE OF YOUR WORLD, COME WITH ME INTO MINE”
The greatest stories in history, the ones that we remember and we celebrate are always stories with risk involved in them. If you want to be a Circle Maker like Honi or like St. Brendan, you have to be a risk taker. And when you are a risk taker, you definitely need to get on your knees, cry out to God, and pray that he’ll come through. And you realize that if he doesn’t come through, you are screwed.
Another circle maker that took risks, prayed, and saw God come through in miraculous ways was Moses. Moses learned that if you don’t take a risk, you won’t get to see God come through in amazing and miraculous ways. So let’s unpack together one of those times where God did something so big that even Moses couldn’t quite believe it. An event that only God could deliver on and could only get the glory for. We’ll be looking at Numbers 11 together.
Let’s look first at Numbers 11:4-9. Numbers 11:4-9 says, The rabble with them began to crave other food, and again the Israelites started wailing and said, “If only we had meat to eat! We remember the fish we ate in Egypt at no cost—also the cucumbers, melons, leeks, onions and garlic. But now we have lost our appetite; we never see anything but this manna!” The manna was like coriander seed and looked like resin. The people went around gathering it, and then ground it in a hand mill or crushed it in a mortar. They cooked it in a pot or made it into loaves. And it tasted like something made with olive oil. When the dew settled on the camp at night, the manna also came down.”
So after 400 years of slavery, God delivers the Israelites out of the hand of Egypt, but it is much harder getting Egypt out of the Israelites, if you know what I mean. You see it in their comments about all the “wonderful things” they got in Egypt, like eating fish with “no cost” (except the cost of slavery and being under the thumb of Pharaoh.) It seems like they have selective amnesia, remembering the food but forgetting everything else. And so they began to complain, and their focus of their complaint is the miraculous provision of manna. How quickly they go from being amazed and thankful at his provisions of food in the desert, to complaining about the same provision from the hand of God. They are tired of the same old same old and wanted meat. No vegetarians apparently in that bunch.
They lost sight of the miracle of what was happening every day. That God was literally providing for them by bringing Manna each and every day. Albert Einstein said, “There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.” Circle Makers are people who would fall into the camp that see everything as a miracle. Live in wonder of how God shows up and shows off in and through them. In and through the dreams, visions, plans, and risks of people who seek to live the Kingdom of God out in the world.
Now I don’t know about you but when my kids complain about dinner, I get pretty frustrated, especially when either myself or Kim have spent time making the dinner. And they look at it and go eh.. or yuck…or refuse to eat it. I’m not saying my dinners are anything miraculous, maybe its miraculous that they are any good. But they do show God’s provision for my family. But God, in the midst of complaining, does get angry but his anger leads to miraculous provisions. But even though Moses continued to see God’s hand in providing the Manna everyday he can’t understand how God is going to continue to provide. Moses complains as well.
In Numbers 11:11-15 he says, “He asked the Lord, “Why have you brought this trouble on your servant? What have I done to displease you that you put the burden of all these people on me? Did I conceive all these people? Did I give them birth? Why do you tell me to carry them in my arms, as a nurse carries an infant, to the land you promised on oath to their ancestors? Where can I get meat for all these people? They keep wailing to me, ‘Give us meat to eat!’ I cannot carry all these people by myself; the burden is too heavy for me. If this is how you are going to treat me, please go ahead and kill me—if I have found favor in your eyes—and do not let me face my own ruin.”
And so not only does the people of Israel complain, Moses complains about the people of Israel and their complaining. And in the midst of his complaining, Moses forgets the miraculous provisions of manna and can only see what isn’t and can’t see what might be. He limits himself and he limits God’s power when he says, “Where can I get meat for all these people?” He loses out on the fact that God loves when people trust him and dream big.
And despite Moses and the people of Israel’s complaining, God promises a big meal of meat. Not meat for one day or even two but for a whole entire month. A month of meat in the middle of the desert and in the middle of nowhere. God promises the meat in verses 18-20 “Tell the people: ‘Consecrate yourselves in preparation for tomorrow, when you will eat meat. The Lord heard you when you wailed, “If only we had meat to eat! We were better off in Egypt!” Now the Lord will give you meat, and you will eat it. You will not eat it for just one day, or two days, or five, ten or twenty days, but for a whole month—until it comes out of your nostrils and you loathe it—because you have rejected the Lord, who is among you, and have wailed before him, saying, “Why did we ever leave Egypt?”’”
But instead of believing that God can do it. Instead of remembering all the amazing ways and stories of how God delivered them, sustained them, and provided for them since their time in Egypt, Moses just can’t see how this monthly long meat fest adds up. He lost the power of dreaming big, taking a risk, and trusting in God’s provisions. His loss in dreaming big is spelled out in verses 21-22, “But Moses said, “Here I am among six hundred thousand men on foot, and you say, ‘I will give them meat to eat for a whole month!’ Would they have enough if flocks and herds were slaughtered for them? Would they have enough if all the fish in the sea were caught for them?” Have you ever been there? Have you ever forgotten the provisions of God and refused to dream big dreams and take risks that God called you to take? We have all been there. We have all thought, “but God this doesn’t add up. God, how in the world will you provide for me, my family, etc.. if we take this step?” But thank God that he doesn’t follow our mathematical rules and sometimes make 0 + 0 =105 million. 105 million quail. That is dreaming big.
God delivers on his promise and we see what happens in verses 31-32, “Now a wind went out from the Lord and drove quail in from the sea. It scattered them up to two cubits deep all around the camp, as far as a day’s walk in any direction. All that day and night and all the next day the people went out and gathered quail. No one gathered less than ten homers.” Nothing is impossible for God. I mean he brought meat to the desert where they was no Outback steakhouse for miles around. And not just meat of one day but for a whole entire month.
In fact, God puts Moses in his place and also us, when he says to Moses, “Is the Lord’s arm too short?” This is the question for you and I when he calls us to circle something in our lives and to dream big and to take a risk for his kingdom. When God gives a vision, He makes provision. We just need the courage to step out in faith when God is calling us to get out of the boat. Honi stepped out in faith and the land saw rain. Brendan got in the boat and wherever he landed he established monasteries (places of learning) and new churches. If we don’t have courage and step out in faith we’ll forfeit the miracle. We have to believe that God owns the cattle on a thousand hills. He can send a west wind that brings 105 million quail into the camp. But we need to do our part and our part is taking a step of faith in pursuing the dream God has put in our hearts.
So what step of faith do you need to take? What decision do you need to make? On what promise do you need to put down a stake?
Those are some of the questions that we’ll be unpacking together.
1. What thoughts, comments, insights, questions, applications, etc.. come to mind when you read the Scripture and/or hear the message?
2. What is a risk you have taken that lead to a miracle? What is a risk you wish you would have taken? Is their a risk you are being called to take?
3. What is God saying to you and what are you going to do about it? What is God saying to us and what should we do about it?