Promised Land On The Other Side of Wilderness
The lectionary text for today comes to us from Exodus 16:2-3.
In this chapter, we find the Hebrew people, who have managed to flee Egypt after 400 years of slavery there. They are in the desert without a lot of resources. They grow fearful. And then this happens:
2 In the desert the whole community grumbled against Moses and Aaron. 3 The Israelites said to them, “If only we had died by the Lord’s hand in Egypt! There we sat around pots of meat and ate all the food we wanted, but you have brought us out into this desert to starve this entire assembly to death.”I remember hearing this Scripture read when I was younger, and saying to myself:
"Seriously? These people are set free from being slaves, and they want to go back at the first sign of trouble? You have to be kidding me, man! I would never do that."
Fast forward a bunch of years, and I'm a pastor lying face down on the floor of his church's sanctuary late one night. I've been there for a little over a year, and I already want to quit.
Things started off rough, mind you. There were a handful of people who decided that I was not at all the pastor they wanted, and they weren't shy about sharing it. I'd been sure that God had wanted me there, but had started to wonder.
Then I began to have some thoughts run through my head like:
"I was a pretty good manager at Best Buy a hundred years ago... I bet I could do that again. Or maybe I could go back to Disney World and find a job. Maybe Starbucks is hiring. It would be good to be around coffee all day..."
At some point it occurred to me that the thing I said I would never do---wishing for Egypt--was exactly what I was doing.
I had felt called by God to that church once, so sure of it... but as soon as things got difficult, I wanted to run back to where I came from.
Ultimately, I did not. I got up off of the floor that night and found new resolve to keep going, and amazing things happened because I was obedient to the call I'd felt.
Over the next several years God did incredible things, we saw great growth and outreach, and people's lives were changed as a result. There was some Promised Land on the other side of that wilderness---can I get a witness?
Maybe you've reached a wilderness place in your life right now, and you feel like turning back to wherever you came from. You are second-guessing your direction, feeling lost and fearful.
Don't let Egypt haunt your dreams. Don't let Egypt become something that it isn't. If God called you out of bondage to freedom then don't ever turn back to bondage. Keep moving.
There's some Promised Land ahead.
May the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you now and always. Amen.