This month, we’ve been reading through the Exodus narrative of the Bible, looking at the Israelites as they make a lengthy journey through the wilderness. The wilderness is such a compelling metaphor because we have all been there at some critical times. Maybe you have come through the wilderness of broken love, or addiction, or financial and job troubles. Those who live with health difficulties can know the seemingly unending wilderness of medical treatments and difficulties. We have those times when our lives feel barren and empty. The end does not seem to be in sight. Then we wonder: how we will make it through?
This Sunday, we remember the re-entry of the Israelites as they arrive in the Promised Land. There is celebration and joy at the end of their rigorous journey. Yet the wilderness raises important questions: What do we learn in the wilderness times? What has God taught you? How will the wilderness experience better prepare us for life ahead?
In a sense, we are always wilderness people, moving through a world that is not our own. The challenges and opportunities of life can easily be at odds with our faith. Jesus would say “I am in the world but not of the world.”
We strive to live dependent on God and not ourselves. We strive to live in ways that teach us to trust in God’s provision for us. In the wilderness, we learn to let God lead us, rather than leading ourselves. We learn to walk by faith and not by sight. God works faithfully in the lessons of the wilderness. Can we, like the Israelites, come to discover God is always ahead of us and meeting us? We discover again God’s immense faithfulness that accompanies our journey, gives us deep reserves of strength and courage to draw upon. God always helps us discover how to live as disciples of Jesus Christ even when this is difficult and challenging.
Sunday, we worship as God’s wilderness people, blessed by a God who goes before us and reminds us how to live in faithful ways.