Miracles can be powerful motivators. At least in theory.
Try as we may to not put the Lord our God to a test (Matthew 4:7), we rightfully pray for the healing, deliverance, and peace our hearts desire—believing if God would just give us what we wanted, our struggles would be over, and we’d be home free.
We aren’t the first ones to make this mistake.
After 400 years of generational slavery under Egypt’s hard-hearted Pharaoh, God’s chosen people got the miraculous delivery they wanted—in undeniably supernatural fashion.
Ten plagues? Pillars of fire and cloud? The Red Sea ripped in half by the hand of God? The Israelites couldn’t have imagined to pray for these things, but our God, in true form, loves to show off for his kids.
And so, overwhelmed with God’s faithfulness in action, the Israelites marched straight into the promised land and lived happily ever after. The End.
Wait. Wait. That’s not how it went down, is it?
The road trip to the promised land started off just fine. Miracles everywhere, glory clouds galore, fresh and flaky manna from Heaven. “I will sing to the LORD, for he is highly exalted,” God’s people shouted with joy and thanksgiving (Exodus 15:1 NIV). They were motivated, dedicated, and eager to embrace their new life of freedom.
But as reality set in, the miracle started to fade. And God’s people started to grumble.
“If only we had died by the LORD’s hand in Egypt! There we sat around pots of meat and ate all the food we wanted, but you [Moses] have brought us out into this desert to starve this entire assembly to death.”Exodus 16:3 NIV
Scholars estimate it only took about 60 days of wandering in the desert for the Israelites to relapse into old ways of thinking and rebel against Moses and Aaron. They were delivered from centuries of bondage—and it only took them two months to forget God’s goodness and start complaining.
They prayed for a miracle. And oh man, did they ever get it! But miraculous deliverance was only the first step. Though physically free from bondage, they were still slaves at heart. And when you try to tell a slave that they’re not only free, but family? It’s going to take more than a miracle for them to believe it’s true.
This is still true for us today—four thousand years since the Exodus encounter and two thousand years on the far side of the cross. Those of us who are in recovery from things like addiction, mental health problems, suicidal thoughts, and even all-out sin continue to relapse into the same ancient and vicious cycle.
We get saved. We get sober. And we relapse.
We get saved again. We get sober again. And we relapse—again.
And again. And again. And again.
(And if you think when I say “we” I’m referring to “those people” I urge you to embrace the truth that recovery is for everyone. And if you don’t believe that, recovery is especially for you.)
When freedom from bondage comes miraculously, as it did for the Israelites, we must not confuse the deliverance we prayed for with the ultimate destination. Deliverance is the first, miraculous step on a journey toward hope, healing, and total life transformation. No matter how big that first step, we still have a long way to go—and grow—from there.
Here’s the problem. When we can’t even see potential for a transformed life, we will inevitably go back to what we know, even if it leads to death. Slave and orphan spirits can keep us perpetually discontented, locked into a victim mentality. And when we don’t break these spirits off in Jesus’ name, we embody them as part of our core identity.
But it doesn’t have to be this way.
When we have a genuine, face-to-face encounter with a good-Father God of transformation:
“We can all draw close to him with the veil removed from our faces. And with no veil we all become like mirrors who brightly reflect the glory of the Lord Jesus. We are being transfigured into his very image as we move from one brighter level of glory to another. And this glorious transfiguration comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.”2 Corinthians 3:18 TPT
When we experience God’s unconditional love and endless grace through the hearts and hands of his people:
“Tolerate the weaknesses of those in the family of faith, forgiving one another in the same way you have been graciously forgiven by Jesus Christ. If you find fault with someone, release this same gift of forgiveness to them. For love is supreme and must flow through each of these virtues. Love becomes the mark of true maturity.”Colossians 3:13-14 TPT
When we find grace-laced, trauma-informed, Holy Spirit-led support in building a promised-land life that’s worth living—and worth fighting for:
“We have become his poetry, a re-created people that will fulfill the destiny he has given each of us, for we are joined to Jesus, the Anointed One. Even before we were born, God planned in advance our destiny and the good works we would do to fulfill it!”Ephesians 2:10 TPT
That’s when we receive the power, strength, and authority to move past initial deliverance, initial sobriety, and initial salvation into the Kingdom inheritance that’s already ours in Christ.
As much as we might want to see that happily-ever-after post-miracle narrative, every good story has an all-is-lost moment. Or two. Or three. Or twenty. These moments are humbling and painful—but necessary.
The Israelites spent 40 years wandering in the desert before stepping into their inheritance—way longer than they needed to. Some died before they made it to the border of the promised land, others struggled to enter even when it was right there in plain sight.
But those who trusted in the Lord and in his mighty power took heed of his words, “Be strong and courageous!” (Joshua 1:9). And eventually, they inhabited the land.
“For all my godly lovers will enjoy life to the fullest and will inherit their destinies.”Proverbs 2:21 TPT
Make no mistake. There were battles, even inside the promised land. There were victories, too—the greatest being a lineage that led to the miraculous birth of a King, who would be a perfect sacrifice for sin. Only he could redeem our wayward, wandering ways and bring us home to dwell in the land for good.
God has promised us a promised-land life, too—one of freedom, abundance, and intimacy with him. Not just when we die, but here and now, on Earth as it is in Heaven, in Jesus’ name.
This is the true miracle. Pray for it. Believe for it. Defend it.