The Wilderness Way

“So God led the people around by the way of the wilderness by the Red Sea.”
Exodus 13:18

Blink and you miss it in that verse nestled right before the crossing of the Red Sea in the Exodus of the Israelites. Right there, God led them out into the wilderness. It’s where John the Baptist would be called from before birth. It’s where Christ would spend 40 days. It wasn’t new for Moses to be in the wilderness, it’s where he met God.

God was intentional in leading His chosen people out of bondage and directly into the wilderness. There was another route, a more direct one along a road. But they would have encountered the Egyptians’ fortification for defensive purposes there, done long before the Exodus. God knew this, and He knew the Israelites were not prepared for battle…yet.

He knows this about us too. Knowing that the route we see as easier and exactly what we would plan out for our escape from slavery and bondage within this world isn’t for us. That route has a battle on it that we just aren’t ready for, so He leads us out into the wilderness just like Moses and His chosen people.

A few verses later we see exactly what was in store for the people of Israel on the wilderness way:

“And the Lord went before them by day in a pillar of cloud to lead the way, and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, so as to go by day and night.”

He led them out to safety, to security, as a safe place and trusting guidance on their journey. He would part the sea through Moses’ hand. He would provide a way of escape for them. This wilderness way would point directly to depending upon God fully in the journey, for provision, for light…for all of it. This wilderness way was so the Israelites would focus on Him, His Presence with them in the entirety of each step, each moment, each day. In everything.

How often do I even recognize His Presence with me in my own life? In my wilderness, do I see it as a way to be prepared by Him? To be led by Him? To fully acknowledge and depend fully upon His Presence with me in every moment? Do I stop to consider He goes before me, leading my way into and through the wilderness because that’s exactly what He wants for me, and knows this is the absolute best for me?

From a Resident of Midian

I acted rashly. Out of emotion. Feeling that I was right and seeking to address the injustice rather than my own feelings. I was in what you would call a personal crisis, reflecting on something that had been stewing under the surface for a while but unwilling to address it head on. Until it came bubbling up in a single moment.

So now I find myself here. In this wilderness land. In a desert of my own making as I fled the consequences of my own sin. Of my rashness of judgement and severity of words. Of emotions and feelings that I allowed to be the controller of my thoughts and life. I didn’t realize how well I’d gotten at running until I took off outside the borders and the walls that I thought were trapping me in. That were attempting to confine me, rather than define the work I would be doing to bust them down.

I ran until I felt I was furthest away from the situations, the people, my emotions and sin, and the consequences of my words. Here I am at a well. In my moment of flight, in seeking to not be known for what has been done by me and to me, I find myself thirsting to be known. Thirsting for water that can wash over what I have dirtied. What others have cast upon me too. Not for just a moment’s satisfaction of quenching this thirst, like I felt my actions were…like my emotions led me to believe would satisfy the thirst for justice.

This desert has left me desperate for water that can only come from a well found in Him. Found in my desperate attempt to cling to everything but Him. To flee and hide, only to be found content in my desperate need for only Him. I came with nothing, only myself, and that’s all He has wanted of me from the beginning-just me. Now I am an alien in a foreign land, feeling as if I don’t belong and yet knowing to be content in exactly that. That wilderness is preparing me for the next season, the next step. Preparing my heart and my mind, quieting the voices of doubt and lies and letting me hear Him speak deeply to me.

I don’t know how long He would have me be here, in this land of Midian, but I know it’s not for me to question why I am here but to only present myself over to what He would have me see, prepare for, work out and understand…to be silent and content before Him alone. He meets me here, in the place of Midian. In the daily. To live out my life in pursuit of a desperate need for Him and not myself, not others, not my plan, my emotions, or my sense of justice.

Current Midianite

 

 

 

Spoiled, Rotten

There’s a story told of when I was a kid, mom had taken my sister and I out to dinner one night. For us, a dinner out was a big deal and especially if it was at Western Sizzlin’, because that meant Jello cubes. One night we go, and fried chicken was apparently ordered for me. I relished in the Jello cubes (and squirted them through my teeth as that is the proper way to eat said Jello). Feasting on everything but the chicken. My leftovers were wrapped up in a napkin and put in the car…then forgotten, as they chicken leg rolled under the seat.

Weeks roll by and a definite smell starts to pervade the black car my mom drove to horrifying levels. After searching high and low, the rotted, spoiled remains of a dinner I chose not to eat was discovered and extracted from the car.

I was thinking on this as I looked at the story of the Israelites this week in Exodus 16. We find them in the desert now complaining to God about their food source. Provision of deliverance wasn’t fulfilling as they journeyed. So God provides food for them, food that they are given detailed instructions on.

(Can we pause and revel in how God was specific to them in how to collect what He provides? It’s such a beautiful picture of detail and His care in us depending upon Him to provide)

Moses is intentional about pointing out that some gather much and other gather a little, but all have what they need. You miss it if you are familiar with the story or skim past it as it seems so minor but so soul-clenching good. What I need looks vastly different to what another needs, yet God provides each according to what He knows is the need. He meets me right where I am to provide-whether camped out in the wilderness or on the mountainside reveling in His teaching.

But it’s when we attempt to store up His provision, as some were prone to do even in Israel that we find our dependence is no longer on Him to provide but ourselves. We cast doubt that He will do as He said, that His promises aren’t good or sure, and that He is not faithful to complete. We question His ability, strength, character….who God is. We put our place above Him to provide for ourselves when that happens. We store up provisions that end up spoiling, because in our own minds we find it easy to pack it up and then let it roll underneath the seat of our lives…where it begins to rot, it festers and spoils. Pride, selfishness, ambition falsely founded lead to the rot. They lead to the trust being broken and provision coming from our own means and not His.

So we come back, we throw out that which has spoiled-cleansing our lives of the doubt and lies that He won’t provide for us in need, the need He knows and the need He meets, not our own definition of need. We wait for a new day, full of new mercies and the manna which He provides for that day. I know I try to jump ahead and point to  tomorrow, next week, next year while He beckons us to this day. Only this day, over and over again. Just. This. Day. It too is a provision for us, that we are given just this day before us.

Let us not spoil tomorrow with the doubts of provision when He has given us the joy of the manna of today.