Wherever we are, we’re not there yet. How ever far we’ve come, we’ve still got some road to travel. Coming out of the wilderness, there’s still a promised land to prepare for. That’s some of what I’m picking from what Moses is laying down in Deuteronomy 8 this morning.
Operation “Take the Land” will soon commence. What they have waited for during 40 years of wilderness wandering is about to become a reality. And, while it won’t possess the same challenges the desert did, it will still present some pretty big challenges.
Challenges like being drawn into the culture of the land rather than being determined to redeem the land. Challenges like enjoying the goodness of the land to such an extent that they forget it’s because of the goodness of their God. Little Jack Horner types of challenges — of possessing and profiting from lands, cities, and houses they did not build yet “putting in their thumb, pulling out a plumb, and saying, ‘What a good boy am I'”. Of whispering under their breath to themselves, “My power and the might of my hand have gotten me this wealth” (Deut. 8:17). Of forgetting that it was their God who gifted them the provision and power to profit (8:18).
So, to prepare for their “land of milk and honey” season, Moses exhorts them to learn from their wilderness season.
“And you shall remember the whole way that the LORD your God has led you these forty years in the wilderness, that He might humble you, testing you to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep His commandments or not.
(Deuteronomy 8:2 ESV)
It hasn’t been 40 years, but it’s been 2+. May not have been a wilderness in the most extreme sense for all, but I can’t imagine it was a walk in the park for any. As we emerge from pandemic life, and all the other life that has happened under its oppressive umbrella, I can’t help but think that every weary wanderer shouldn’t have something to show for it.
Humbled by what the crucible has surfaced. Whether in our culture at large or within our churches at home. Perhaps within those we thought we knew well. More importantly, perhaps within our own hearts that we thought we knew better.
For whatever lies ahead, we should remember “the whole way” that the LORD our God has led over these past couple of years. Believing that, regardless of whatever other purposes our Sovereign God may have had in allowing COVID to be COVID, He sought to humble us, to test us, to know what was in our heart. Allowing us to encounter the flames in order to know if we’d be faithful. And that for the purpose of preparing us for the next season, whatever it might be.
And He humbled you and let you hunger and fed you with manna, which you did not know, nor did your fathers know, that He might make you know that man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD.”
(Deuteronomy 8:3 ESV)
Though the specific lessons learned by each of us over the past couple of years might be different, what a reflective and revived people of God should come away knowing from any wilderness walk is that God is faithful and worthy to be followed. That His ways are always the right ways. And that through His word, and by the power of His Spirit, we can not only survive the wilderness, but we can thrive in the wilderness. Perhaps emerging somewhat weary, yet more prepared and with greater resolve to continue to walk in His ways.
Readied for the next season.
Only by His grace. Always for His grace.