Over the past five or six years, I’ve had people tell me with the kind of unflinching certainty that we know can ONLY come from God that God will use my writing. I’ve been told that there is a preacher in me just waiting to rise up. I’ve been told my life will be dedicated to serving the LORD. I’ve heard that I need to give my friends and families autographed pictures now so that they can sell them on e-bay later (well not really but you get the idea).
I can’t tell you how eager I was to buy into this vision. I had a passion for writing and preaching (although I’m not particularly good at either yet) that it was easy for me to see this as a combined seal of approval to pursue my passion and a promise that it will take me further than I could possibly imagine. I was ready to leave behind the world of uncertainty and struggle and hardship and enter into a world of abundant provision, of passionate and intimate existence with the Living God through work and devotion I cared passionately for.
In other words, I was ready to leave my bricks and arrive in the land of milk and honey.
And I only realized that I was doing that this week when I read in Exodus 13:17 “God did not lead them along the road to the land of the Philistines, even though it was nearby; for God said, ‘The people will change their minds and return to Egypt if they face war.’”
Instead they are lead through the wilderness by a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night. They are given instructions on how to have an intimate relationship with the Living God. They are given Mana and Quail from heaven, water from rocks, and the persistent, manifest presence of the LORD among them in the tabernacle. But that Milk and Honey? That’s a while off.
And the people who so desperately wanted that promise start to complain about all the manna saying in Numbers 11 “We remember the free fish we ate in Egypt, along with the cucumbers, melons, leeks, onions, and garlic.” Following the Lord to the fulfillment of His promise is not easy. Sometimes we criticize the Jewish people in the wilderness because of their faithlessness, but let me tell you something.
How different are they from us? How would you respond if someone said, “I got this great deal for you but you need to work and sweat like you wouldn’t believe before you get it.”?
I find that as I seek the fulfillment of His promises, I first must enter the wilderness with Him. I need to learn to rely on Him, to be satisfied with that which is only barely sufficient. I need to learn to let go of the comforts and familiarity of sin and slavery to an old way of life that I might live more fully in a land of abundance.
It’s not easy, but the LORD is with me, and I WILL learn to rejoice in Him no matter what else may come.
Wilderness stories are very welcome!