Let My People Go (Into the Wilderness)

Open gatesScripture Text:  Exodus 5: 1

 Afterward Moses and Aaron went to Pharaoh and said, “Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, ‘Let my people go, so that they may celebrate a festival to me in the wilderness.’“

We know the story. The people had been taken away, held in slavery. And now, God is insisting: “Let my people go.” The truth is, it probably wasn’t slavery as we think about it. There were probably not prison bars or shackles or anything of the like. Their slavery may have resembled more of an indentured servant or perhaps an economic enslavement. They could not leave, of course, but not because they were held but because they were bound. It was just as bad and in some cases, it is harder to claim release.


So God screams, “Let my people go.” The truth is, maybe God wasn’t worried about the economic enslavement at all. Because, you see, they had been there awhile, a couple of generations if you’re counting. And as generations go on, we forget, we forget who we are. It would have been so incredibly easy to lapse into the Egyptian society. It wasn’t bad. In fact, it would have been easier to do just that. But it wasn’t who they were. Somehow, I think God’s concern was not that they were economically enslaved but that they had forgotten who they were.  In God’s vision, the wilderness, the place where darkness loomed, was better than the place of safety that enslaved the people.


SO, does this sound familiar?  We are not enslaved.  We are, however, bound.  We are bound by our lifestyle, by what our life expects us to be.  We are bound by the expectations of others.  We are bound by our plans for what our life holds.  We are bound by what we think we are supposed to be in this world.  We, too, have forgotten who we are.  And, just as God did so long ago, the Divine screams into the night, “Let my people go.”  We are not enslaved in the usual sense.  There are no prison bars and no shackles.  But we are enslaved.  This season of Lent is God’s time, God’s time to scream “let my people go,” and be heard.  And even the wilderness is better than what we have.


The wilderness is calling.  The place where we are not bound, where we can finally learn to be free, where  danger meets us and we know that rather turn to the ones who enslave  us, who offer no help in the wilderness, we will finally look to God.  Let us be the ones who finally, once and for all, know that we are offered freedom, freedom, mostly, not from whom holds us, but from the one who we are not.  Let us be the people who, finally, go and be the one that we are meant to be.


I think most of the spiritual life is really a matter of relaxing — letting go, ceasing to cling, ceasing to insist on our own way, ceasing to tense ourselves up for this or against that. (Beatrice Bruteau)


FOR TODAY:  In what ways are you enslaved?  What would it mean to be let go?  God is waiting to do that.


Grace and Peace,





With My Mind Stayin’ on Jesus


Kneeling at the CrossScripture Text: Mark 8: 31-38

31Then he began to teach them that the Son of Man must undergo great suffering, and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again. 32He said all this quite openly. And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. 33But turning and looking at his disciples, he rebuked Peter and said, “Get behind me, Satan! For you are setting your mind not on divine things but on human things.”  34He called the crowd with his disciples, and said to them, “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. 35For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake, and for the sake of the gospel, will save it. 36For what will it profit them to gain the whole world and forfeit their life? 37Indeed, what can they give in return for their life? 38Those who are ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of them the Son of Man will also be ashamed when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.”

So many of us are like Peter. We want to “fix” things, to make sure that everything and everyone is safe and alright. We want things to be OK. We want to get this wilderness place cleaned up and ready for show. But that was never part of the promise. I think Peter actually DID understand that Jesus was the Messiah. He just didn’t fully grasp what that meant. For him, the Messiah was here to fix things, to make it all turn out like it was supposed to turn out. And now Jesus was telling them that the way they had thought it would all turn out was not to be, that instead this Messiah, this one who was supposed to make everything right, was to be rejected and would endure great suffering.  “No, this can’t be!” yelled Peter.  This cannot happen.  We have things to accomplish.  We are not done.  This ministry is important. It cannot go away.  You have to fix this. You have to fix this now! We are not ready to do it alone. We are not ready to be without you. 

Now, contrary to the way our version of the Scriptures interprets it, I don’t think Jesus was accusing Peter of being evil or Satan or anything like that.  More than likely, this was Jesus’ way of reprimanding Peter for getting hung up on the values of this world, getting hung up on our very human desire to save ourselves and the way we envision our lives to be, to fix things.  But what God had in store was something more than playing it safe.  I think that Peter, like us, intellectually knew that.  We know that God is bigger and more incredible than anything that we can imagine.  And yet, that’s hard to take.  We still sort of want God to fix things, to make things comfortable, or at least palatable.  We still sort of want God to lead us to victory, to lead us to being the winning team.  Face it, we sort of still want Super Jesus in the story.  And, of course, Peter loved Jesus.  He didn’t even want to think about the possibility of Jesus, his friend, his mentor, his confidante, suffering, of Jesus dying.

You know, there is a danger in our thinking that God is here to make life easier for us, to keep us safe and warm and free from harm. After all, there’s that whole Cross thing that gets in the way. If we think that God came into this world, Emmanuel, God-with-us to make life better or easier or grander for us, then what do we do with a crucified Savior? What do we do with the cross?  Well, let’s be honest, most of us clean it up, put it in the front of the sanctuary, and, sadly, go on with the security of our lives.  So, what does it mean to “take up your cross and follow”? What does it MEAN to follow God not just to the altar where that gleaming, cleaned-up cross sits, but to follow Christ to the hills of Golgotha, to walk with Jesus all the way to the Cross?  I think it means that sometimes faith is hard; sometimes faith is risky; in fact, sometimes faith is downright dangerous. And, to be honest, faith rarely makes sense in the context of the world in which we live. After all “denying ourselves”, “losing our life to save it”, and “letting go to gain” make absolutely no sense to us. They don’t make sense because we are setting our minds on the human rather than the Divine.

There’s a old Gospel song with these lyrics:  (Hear it at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xit39G0lIk4)

Well, woke up this mo’nin with my mind, stayin’ on Jesus

Woke up this mo’nin with my mind, stayin’ on Jesus

Well, woke up this mo’nin with my mind, stayin’ on Jesus

Halleluh, halleleluh, halleleluh


In all probability, none of us will be physically crucified for our faith.  But it doesn’t mean that we should clean it up and put it out for display either.  Sometimes our journey will take us through waters that are a little too deep and torrential; sometimes we will find ourselves bogged down by mud; and sometimes faith takes us to the edge of a cliff where we are forced to precariously balance ourselves until we find the way down.  The promise was not that it would be safe; the promise was that there was something more than we could ever imagine and that we would never journey through the wilderness alone. The promise was that a Savior would come, not to save us from the world or to save us from evil, but to save us from ourselves.

On this Lenten journey, this journey that takes us through the wilderness all the way to that place beyond the wilderness, to the Cross, we are called to follow Christ. We are called to begin to wake up in the morning with our minds “stayin’ on Jesus”. It will not lead you to safety; it will lead you to Life.

He comes to us as One unknown, without a name, as of old, by the lakeside…He speaks to us the same word:  ‘Follow thou me!” and sets us to the tasks which He has to fulfill for our time…And to those who obey, whether they be wise or simple, [God] will reveal {Godself] in the toils, the conflicts, the sufferings which they shall pass through in this fellowship, and, as an ineffable mystery, they shall learn in their own experience Who [God] is.  (Albert Schweitzer)

FOR TODAY:  Put your plans aside.  Let go of the images of God that you have conjured up.  Let go of the notion of a Savior who will fix things.  Close your eyes.  Then wake up…wake up with minds stayin’ on Jesus…all the way through the wilderness of Golgotha to Life.

Grace and Peace,


Beyond the Wilderness


Moses and the Burning BushScripture Text:  Exodus 3: 1-5

 Moses was keeping the flock of his father-in-law Jethro, the priest of Midian; he led his flock beyond the wilderness, and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. 2There the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a flame of fire out of a bush; he looked, and the bush was blazing, yet it was not consumed. 3Then Moses said, “I must turn aside and look at this great sight, and see why the bush is not burned up.” 4When the Lord saw that he had turned aside to see, God called to him out of the bush, “Moses, Moses!” And he said, “Here I am.” 5Then he said, “Come no closer! Remove the sandals from your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground.”

We sometimes miss that nuance when we read this story.  I think I read this for years as if this miraculous burning bush was placed right in Moses’ path, impeding his way, something that he could not possibly miss, perhaps something that he would just trip over if he wasn’t paying attention.  But the passage says that Moses had to “go over” or turn aside to see it, had to actually get off the path that he was on to see this incredible sight.

Here is Moses, who has led his flock to a place “beyond the wilderness”.  I’m not sure what that is.  But it’s apparently a place to which only a journey through the wilderness can take you.  If it’s a literal place, then it’s WAY off any map that we have.  I think it’s more than likely that it’s the place to which you come when you yield to the wilderness, when you let yourself relinquish control and let go of what you are holding so tightly, when, finally, you trust God enough to turn aside to see what God has in store for you.  But, whatever this place is, Moses is leading his flock off the beaten path into a mysterious and unknown place right up to the mountain of God.

And there, off the path, not where he could stumble over it, but where he had to leave his planned pathway to investigate, he sees it—a bush blazing brightly with a fire that did not consume.  This was beyond what was normal.  Well, needless to say, his curiosity was piqued.  He needed to know more, needed to get a closer look.  So he steps toward it.  And then he hears his name.  “Moses, Moses.”  Startled, Moses stammered out a meager response:  “Here I am.”

Now in that moment, I think it’s probable that Moses didn’t even completely understand what was happening.  After all, remember, in early Hebrew thought, if you see God, if you hear God, you die.  And then this great voice tells him to take off his shoes, to take off his shoes because he was standing on holy ground.  Holy ground?  Well, it was ordinary a minute ago!  How did it get to be holy? And then God tells Moses what Moses is called to do.  This shepherd, this ordinary person standing in bare feet on the side of what used to be an ordinary mountain is called to deliver the people of Israel, to lead them to freedom.  This is Moses’ commissioning. And somehow he began to process and understand what was happening.  So, he began to take control of the situation and try his best to get out of what was happening.  After all, Holy Ground is a dangerous place.  For there, you touch the Divine and are changed forever.  There is no going back.

Our Lenten journey is one that will take us beyond the wilderness, to a place where you will see and know things that you’ve never seen and known before, to a place where you will finally turn aside from your plans, from your routine and, there, find yourself standing on Holy Ground.

Holiness comes wrapped in the ordinary. There are burning bushes all around you. Every tree is full of angels. Hidden beauty if waiting in every crumb. Life wants to lead you from crumbs to angels, but this can happen only if you are willing to unwrap the ordinary by staying with it long enough to harvest its treasure. (Macrina Wiederkher, A Tree Full of Angels)

FOR TODAY: Journey to a place beyond the wilderness, beyond the place where you have so far allowed yourself to go. Then turn aside.

Grace and Peace,


Finding Enough in the Wilderness

Shifting Sands on the PathwayScripture Text:  Romans 4: 13-22

13For the promise that he would inherit the world did not come to Abraham or to his descendants through the law but through the righteousness of faith. 14If it is the adherents of the law who are to be the heirs, faith is null and the promise is void. 15For the law brings wrath; but where there is no law, neither is there violation. 16For this reason it depends on faith, in order that the promise may rest on grace and be guaranteed to all his descendants, not only to the adherents of the law but also to those who share the faith of Abraham (for he is the father of all of us,  17as it is written, “I have made you the father of many nations”) —in the presence of the God in whom he believed, who gives life to the dead and calls into existence the things that do not exist. 18Hoping against hope, he believed that he would become “the father of many nations,” according to what was said, “So numerous shall your descendants be.” 19He did not weaken in faith when he considered his own body, which was already as good as dead (for he was about a hundred years old), or when he considered the barrenness of Sarah’s womb. 20No distrust made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God, 21being fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised. 22Therefore his faith “was reckoned to him as righteousness.”

According to the passage, faith is and has always been the basis of a relationship with God.  (Well, duh!)  We know that.  We are told to believe, to have faith, no matter what.  And so we wander around in another wilderness perhaps beating ourselves up because it just doesn’t make sense to us.  Our pragmatic 21st century minds need proof.  We want to touch it or we want to somehow see it or AT LEAST be able to google it and get more information.  But, as Paul reminds us here, if our whole faith system depends on nothing more than adhering to some limited set of laws or hard and fast Scriptural interpretations that have been laid down by those that came before us, what good is faith?  It’s not bad, mind you, it’s just not enough.  Faith is about relationship; faith is about jumping off into the abyss of unknowing whether or not it makes sense; faith is about knowing only that what you know, what you understand, and what you’ve been told is just not enough.

Now I have to admit, I am a list maker of the highest magnitude.  There is a certain satisfaction, almost power-driven, in “checking things off” my list.  So, faith, for me, is definitely a walk in the wilderness where the winds blow the sands beneath my feet distorting my planned path, where the road winds and turns into unknown terrain, and where nothing, I mean NOTHING, is ever completed or “checked off” as “OK, I got that one”.  See, I don’t think Paul would have ever have meant to dismiss systematized religion or even the rules.  They help shape us; they give us a starting point.  But Paul is reminding us that they have their limitations.  They tend to make sense of something that, in our minds, in our limited human minds, does not and cannot fully make sense.  An authentic, growing, faith making its way through the wild terrain is one that weaves what doesn’t make sense into understanding, laughter into prayer, and grace into the everyday.  It is a mixture of sense-making and transcendence that, sometimes, on our very best days, opens us to an encounter with the Divine when we least expect it in our everyday, carefully planned, list-ridden life.  And in that moment, the path beneath us shifts just a bit as God gently moves us to face a new direction.

As the passage says, the promises of God do not come to us through our religion or through our laws or through even our reading of the Scriptures (shhhh!)  The promise of God comes to us through our faith.  The promise comes to be in the wilds of our lives when our lists cannot be completed and we can no longer control where our path leads.  The promise takes life when we encounter and know God as perfectly revealed and totally hidden.  The promise takes life when we finally know that what we know is never enough.

On this Lenten wilderness journey, we are taught to open our eyes to what we’re missing seeing and opening our hearts to the ways that we’re missing being and opening our minds beyond the boundaries that we have drawn to know that there is so much more, that what we know and what we see is never enough.  We are never called to tame the wilderness through which we journey or to try to redraw the shifting pathways but rather to believe that the Promise will be. The wilderness teaches us that faith fills the void where knowing is not enough.  And, for now, that is enough.

Let your religion be less of a theory and more of a love affair.  (G.K. Chesterton)

FOR TODAY: Put the list down. Stop checking things off.  Now let yourself travel into the wilderness where faith is enough.

Grace and Peace,


Reclaimed in the Wildeness

Fork in the desert roadScripture Text:  Genesis 21: 14

14So Abraham rose early in the morning, and took bread and a skin of water, and gave it to Hagar, putting it on her shoulder, along with the child, and sent her away. And she departed, and wandered about in the wilderness of Beer-sheba.

Well our heroes from yesterday are not shining examples of humanity in this story. After God promised Abraham a son with his wife Sarah, they laughed in disbelief. But they waited…and waited…and waited. They got impatient, as we all do at times, and took matters into their own hands. (Don’t we all do that at times?)  So Sarah devised a plan where Abraham would father a child with her slave Hagar. After all, in her mind that would fulfill the promise that Abraham would become the “father of a nation” so maybe this was what God meant all along. But, of course, things did not come out completely rosy. Predictably, Hagar’s pregnancy provoked Sarah’s jealousy and bitterness, and so she drove Hagar into the wilderness. But, true to character, God found her there and welcomed her back, in effect reclaiming her as part of the story. He told her that her child that was to be born would be called Ishmael, which means “God hears”. He said that her descendants would be “too numerous to count”. (This is starting to sound vaguely familiar!)

In the passage for today, it is probably some fifteen years later. It is the occasion of the weaning of Isaac, which probably means that he’s about three years old. Once again, those old wounds and jealousies surface for Sarah and, once again, she drives Hagar, this time with the child Ishmael, into the wilderness. Hagar gives up, toying with just leaving Ishmael to die so the whole sordid thing would end. But then, once again, God hears. And then God makes what is really an extraordinary promise to Hagar that is almost identical to the promise made to Abraham. “I will make him into a great nation…God was with the boy.”

This is a little bit different wilderness story.  Hagar was not “driven” to the wilderness; she didn’t go there for solace or renewal; she wasn’t wandering through it on the way to the Promised Land.  Hagar was sent away, forced into the wilderness mainly by Sarah’s jealousy and resentment and Abraham’s fear and remorse.  And there God again reclaims her, giving her a new story, a new promise of life to come.  The story is a reminder that God is God, once and for all, and that God, with infinite compassion and abounding grace will reclaim us even from ourselves, even from what we humans do to each other.  One by one, in the deepest wilderness of our lives, God reclaims us as children of God.

God’s focus becomes a focus on the future.  Five chapters before this when Hagar had run into the wilderness to avoid Sarah’s wrath, God came.  Sent into the wilderness as forsaken, Hagar encounters God.  In fact, God draws her into conversation.  Hagar becomes the first person in Genesis to encounter an angel of God and the first woman to be given promises (the first woman, ever!).  She becomes the only person in the Old Testament to actually name God.  Hagar, sent into the wilderness so that she would not be part of the story, is reclaimed by God and given a story all her own. In his book, Peculiar Treasures, Frederick Buechner says of this story that it tells “how in the midst of the whole unseemly affair the Lord, half tipsy with compassion, went around making marvelous promises, and loving everybody, and creating great nations, like the last of the big-time spenders handing out hundred dollar bills.”

Both children are recognized as belonging to Abraham but also to a particular future that will be worked out in the future. God announces that it is through Isaac that descendants will be named for Abraham, referring to the covenantal line. But Abraham can be assured that God will care for the future of Ishmael as well, making of him a great nation, making him of the great story that God is continually writing.

In this season of Lent, we do wander in the wilderness.  Some of our wildernesses are self-imposed; some are gifts given from God for renewal and recreation; and some wildernesses are so deep that God must pluck us out of the undergrowth and hold us, setting us upright, so that we begin a new journey.  Lent teaches us that the story is always more than we planned, more than we can see, more than the road that we are on now.  In this wilderness season, the story begins to move beyond ourselves.  We just have to learn to pay attention and allow ourselves to be reclaimed by a story we did not fully know.

Grace fills empty spaces, but it can only enter where there is a void to receive it, and it is grace itself which makes this void. (Simone Weil)

FOR TODAY:  What is your story?  What chapter is God calling you to include?  How is God reclaiming you from the wilderness in which you wander?

Grace and Peace,


Falling Down Laughing

Falling down laughingScripture Text:  Genesis 17: 4-8

4“As for me, this is my covenant with you: You shall be the ancestor of a multitude of nations. 5No longer shall your name be Abram, but your name shall be Abraham; for I have made you the ancestor of a multitude of nations. 6I will make you exceedingly fruitful; and I will make nations of you, and kings shall come from you.  7I will establish my covenant between me and you, and your offspring after you throughout their generations, for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and to your offspring after you. 8And I will give to you, and to your offspring after you, the land where you are now an alien, all the land of Canaan, for a perpetual holding; and I will be their God.”

You know the story.  Abram and Sarai have longed for a child, an offspring, a descendent.  But it had never happened.  And now, with more years behind them than ahead, they have resolved that the longing will never come to be.  The first ones to hear this story were more than likely in the midst of exile, living in the wilderness of darkness and looking at the bare remains of a city and temple that once was.  The story comes as a reminder of who they are as the people of God.  It is a reminder that God does not always act within the limits that we have established and the plans that we have formulated in our small minds; rather, God continually jaunts out into the wilderness, into what cannot be, and creates.  It’s ludicrous; it’s incredulous; it’s enough to make you fall down laughing.  But God’s promise remains true.

First, God appears to Abram and announces God’s presence.  Abram falls on his face, downright shocked at who is actually speaking to him.  And with the covenant, Abram becomes Abraham and Sarai becomes Sarah.  The covenant signifies a shift in who they are.  God promises that Abram will have descendents.  And they laughed.  Well, of course they laughed.  It was ridiculous.  Abram and Sarai were old–really, really, really old.  All logic told them that their childbearing years were not just running out but were way behind them.  It just didn’t make sense.  But surprisingly, God often doesn’t make sense in this world that we have figured out.  God continually tends to sort of blow the boundaries and the limits that we have drawn out of the water.

Our lectionary (even the full passage that I didn’t put up at the front of this) doesn’t really include the part where Abram fell down laughing.  Perhaps those who put the lectionary together thought that a bit too irreverent of the mighty God.  After all, would you dare laugh at God?  Well, good grief, don’t you think God is laughing at us sometimes?  Perhaps laughter is what brings perspective.

Abraham laughed.  Sarah laughed.  And I’m betting God laughed.  (You can just imagine the inside joke between the three:  “This is going to be good.  No one will ever believe this could happen.  We’ll just shake them up a bit.”)  Maybe laughter is our grace-filled way of getting out of our self and realizing that, as ludicrous and unbelievable as it may be, God’s promise holds.  Maybe it’s our way of admitting once and for all that we don’t have it all figured out, that, in all honesty, we don’t even have ourselves figured out, that there’s a whole new identity just waiting for us to claim.  In this Season of Lent, we are called to get out of our self, to open ourselves to possibilities and ways of being that we cannot even fathom. Go ahead and laugh.  It is only the beginning.  The promise holds.

You know, I don’t think God really expects us to stay buttoned-up and well-behaved.  God doesn’t want anything that we are not.  God doesn’t want us on our best behavior; God wants us real; God wants us to just flat fall down laughing sometimes at the ludicrousness of it all.  If sometimes tells you not to cry, if someone tells you not to laugh, they are telling you not to be you.  God gave you those expressions of emotion as a wonderful, wonderful gift to get you through it all.  Don’t you think God enjoys a good joke once in a awhile?  After all, this is the God that promised offspring to someone not just past their prime, but downright looking at the tail end of life!  And THEN came through with the promise.  Pretty funny…pretty sneaky…pretty amazing.

I hope that at my funeral, there will be both tears and laughter because then I will know that I have lived the fullness of life.  And then I hope that everyone will leave the church and go dancing because then I will know that they have joy.  The wilderness is known for tears but sometimes you just have to laugh at the ludicrousness of it all.  I don’t know if we laugh our way through the wilderness or out of it, but Abram embraced it and became someone else.  Abraham and Sarah never got to the Promised Land.  It was enough to live with God’s Promise of what it held; it was enough for it to make one fall down laughing in praise to the God who chooses not to live within our rules, who chooses instead to love our laughter and feel our tears and offer grace through it all.

Humor is the beginning of faith and laughter is the beginning of prayer. (Reinhold Niebuhr)

FOR TODAY:  Laugh…laugh…laugh…laugh enough that you fall down in prayer.

Grace and Peace,




Roundabout Way of the Wilderness

Moses in the WildernessScripture Text:  Exodus 13: 17-22

17When Pharaoh let the people go, God did not lead them by way of the land of the Philistines, although that was nearer; for God thought, “If the people face war, they may change their minds and return to Egypt.” 18So God led the people by the roundabout way of the wilderness toward the Red Sea. The Israelites went up out of the land of Egypt prepared for battle. 19And Moses took with him the bones of Joseph who had required a solemn oath of the Israelites, saying, “God will surely take notice of you, and then you must carry my bones with you from here.” 20They set out from Succoth, and camped at Etham, on the edge of the wilderness. 21The Lord went in front of them in a pillar of cloud by day, to lead them along the way, and in a pillar of fire by night, to give them light, so that they might travel by day and by night. 22Neither the pillar of cloud by day nor the pillar of fire by night left its place in front of the people.

The Season of Lent is the wilderness season.  It begins in the wilderness and ends in another wilderness until Easter bursts forth.  And in between those wildernesses are the stories of the way of the wilderness.  Lent is about fasting from what we know and feasting on what we find in our roundabout way through the wilderness.  There are, of course, many mentions of wildernesses in the Scriptures.  The NRSV touts 287 times that the word “wilderness” shows up.  Well, there seems to be a recurring theme here.  Maybe it’s not that wilderness just keeps cropping up in our Scriptures; maybe the Scriptures are rather about the wilderness, or, more specifically, a rhythm of going and return, forsakenness and deliverance, hopelessness and redemption.  The Scriptures begin in the wilderness.  Genesis 1 doesn’t specifically mention the word.  But in its place is a depiction of it as a formless void filled with darkness.  It is where we begin and then God recreates it into order and light.  Pilgrimage, or journeying, is a way of life.  And all of us struggle along the way.  The wilderness is part of our story.  It is part of us.  It is the way we grow in our faith.

When you read the Exodus passage above, we are told that God sort of “redirected” the people through the wilderness to avoid the land of the Philistines.  And there they wandered for forty years, through a wilderness with no real “roadmap”, through shifting sands and places devoid of landmarks.  They journeyed through hopelessness and forsakenness, continually asking questions and doubting that God was there at all.  But they grew.  They grew to know God, grew to know themselves.  What they found in the wilderness was their identity.  The sometimes harsh lessons of the desert transformed the people into God’s people.  Led by a cloud through the desert, the people became people of faith.

We are no different.  This season may sometimes seem to be a roundabout way through the wilderness.  We encounter the dangers of hopelessness and forsakenness; we experience the dangers of questions and doubt; and somewhere in there, if we give ourselves the chance, we are recreated and transformed into newness and life.  During this season, we keep hearing over and over to empty ourselves before God and open ourselves to what God is showing us.  It is our season of unmasking, peeling off all of the layers that do not belong to us, that make us someone who we are not. Leo Tolstoy once said that “there are many reasons for the failure to comprehend Christ’s teaching…but the chief cause which has engendered all these misconceptions is this: that Christ’s teaching is considered to be such that it cannot be accepted, or even not accepted, without changing one’s life.” The wilderness is what changes us, what changes our life.

In the spiritual tradition, wilderness is the place where we leave the world behind and place ourselves at God’s disposal. (Daniel Wolpert)

FOR TODAY:  Embrace your journey through the wilderness.  Make it your story.  This is your beginning.  Place yourself at God’s disposal and change your life.

Grace and Peace,