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Wednesday, March 21, 2012

The Desert

I have been reading the story of how God brought the Hebrews out of Egypt and into the desert while they were en route to  the promised land.  I am not trying to make any great theological point or draw a particular parallel with my own life...  I am merely making observations.  What strikes me is that He took them to the desert on purpose.  The people had left behind all the structure of their normal lives (albeit many were slaves), but even the houses and land they had lived in for 400 years was gone.   It is uncomfortable for us to leave behind our personal routines, whether they brought pleasure or pain.  They wandered in the desert,  lived in tents,  and ate the same cakes of manna three meals a day every day.   All as a part of God’s plan.

Alone.  Their routines, food, houses, and neighbors were gone.  They had no knowing of where they were going.  And yet, they were not alone.  They had God himself.  He appeared in His manifest glory to them all several times.  He even guided them through the desert  with a cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night.  He made a dread of these homeless ex-slaves fall on all the nations around them so they would be safe.  Basically, God’s plan was for them to trade in their normal life for a time of isolation where all they had was Him.  He wanted them to learn to focus on Him, solely, totally.

And if they had, the desert trip would have been relatively short.  But they didn’t know that.  All they could see was what was missing.  And it seemed it would last forever.   And they complained.  And they became afraid. 

Oh God, help us not to see only what is missing from our lives!  Help us not to give in to complaining and fear when the desert looks like it will swallow us up.  Show yourself strong in our weakness.  Help us to have eyes to see you and ears to hear you and not miss the opportunity for  deeper intimacy that only comes in the desert!

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