Friday, February 20, 2015

For my wilderness friends

I was reading this morning about the Israelites after they left Egypt.  In Exodus 16 it says they "came to the wilderness of Sin."  Apparently this particular wilderness is located somewhere between Elim and Sinai and it just happens to have the ironic name of Sin.  Your wilderness may be located inside an empty house, a hospital room, a cemetery, a school, or a doctor's office.  It may be caused by sin (yours or someone else's) or it may just be an unwelcome part of your journey.

When the Israelites got to the wilderness of Sin they were hungry and they grumbled because they remembered how it used to be.  When I'm in the wilderness, I grumble too.  I want things the way they were before.  I'm needy. I'm sad. I'm angry. I'm empty.  And I want God to show up!  Look at God's response to their grumbling, "I am about to rain bread from heaven for you." What?  They just wanted to go back to Egypt.  They didn't know there was another way to survive the wilderness. But in the morning they looked outside and saw something covering the ground and asked, 'What is it?' Moses told them, 'It's the bread that the Lord has given you to eat.'  It was like nothing they had ever seen before and a new supply fell every morning. There was enough for everyone and it kept coming as long as they were in the wilderness.

Manna sounds a lot like grace--new every morning, sufficient for the day and enough for everyone. When I was in the wilderness of cancer, people would say that there was no way they could do what I was doing. They were right. Unless you are in the wilderness, you don't have the manna you need.  Unless you have breast cancer, you don't have the grace God gives to sustain you in that sick bed. Unless your husband has moved out, you don't have the grace that is sufficient for you in that empty house. Unless your child has died, you don't have the grace you need to survive a trip to the cemetery. But when you are in the wilderness--of loneliness, of pain, of depression--that is when God provides the grace to sustain you. You might have to look for it and it may not look like anything you've ever experienced before.  You may not think it's enough. You may be like the Israelites who wondered how they could survive without all the food they wanted.  But God says, 'My grace is sufficient for you.'(2 Cor. 12:9) As you journey through your wilderness, God's grace may not look like what you thought you wanted, but it is all you need.

If you are wandering in the wilderness, keep moving.  In chapter 17 it says that the people moved from the wilderness by stages. Those Israelites moved from place to place to place before they finally got to where they were going.  If you are in the wilderness, press on.  Don't give up. Moses named one of those intermediary places Massah (which means tested) because it was there that the people tested the Lord by saying, 'Is the Lord among us or not?' Excuse me? Did they forget about the manna?  Did they not see God with them every morning when they looked outside their tent?

When you are camped in a place that seems far from where you want to be and you are wondering if God is there, look for the manna. Look for the mercies that are new every morning. Look for the bread. God's response to our need is still bread from heaven. Jesus said, 'I am the living bread that came down from heaven.' (John 6:51)  This is my body which was broken for you... take,eat. (1 Cor. 11:24)

1 comment:

Marianne said...

This is so great!! Thank you again, for amazing words of wisdom!!