Have you ever spent time in the wilderness? When I ponder that question, I remember the times backpacking the Appalachian Mountains on trails where other hikers wouldn’t be seen for days. I also remember the importance of having a good trail map so that you didn’t lose your way through the wilderness. From mid-September through the first Sunday of October, we will be spending some time in the wilderness with the Israelites in the book of Exodus as they trek from Egypt to the Promised Land. Their handling of their “wilderness experience” speaks volumes as to the human condition any time we spend time in the wilderness, whether that is a literal or figurative place.
Whether it is their longing to go back to Egypt, where they were slaves but at least they knew where their next meal was coming from, or their complaining that God is no longer providing for them, the Israelites are typical in their reaction to being in the wilderness. I can remember while hiking through a couple of days of steady rain longing for the warmth of my car that I had left some miles back, and praying to God to provide some sunshine! Similarly, in times of our “spiritual wilderness” wanderings, typically there is often a longing for a return to the “good old days” (even if they really weren’t all that great), and complaining to God that God would have the audacity to allow the tough times that we have to endure.
What we will discover in these familiar stories is that despite our longings to go back, God is always out ahead of us leading us forward, showing us the way through the wilderness. And despite our grumbling and complaining (and the Israelites were world-class whiners!) God tends to provide for us what we need to get through to the other side of the wilderness.
I hope you can join us for these services, particularly if you feel like you are presently on a journey through some wilderness in your life. The stories we will hear are a reminder that God never deserts us on those journeys.