Sometime early last year, I wrote some thoughts on what I was going through that time, likening it to the journey of the Hebrews from captivity to the promised land. Hoping that it won’t take me 40 years like it did them, I still think it still relevant one year down the line having hopefully advanced some bit. I am posting the thoughts here – a bit lengthy, but I hope you can stay with me to the end:
“When I think of our walk with the Lord, I see a lot of imagery paralleled in the children of Israel’s movement from Egypt to Canaan. Somehow, I am able to see in my own life shadows in what was transpiring in their lives. In my estimation, I am somewhere between Egypt and the promised land.
Having departed from Egypt (at least in some aspects) I am struggling with the change of lifestyle in the wilderness. I think I am experiencing the joy of freedom from Egypt while on the other hand having to deal with the anxiety of daily uncertainty of provision. I am used to a definite routine which is both predictable and definite though in slavery. In my new life, there is no task master to tell me what to do and also to tell me what to eat and when to eat. I’ve been used to routine such that even though I am now free, my internal systems are not comfortable with waking up every morning not knowing what the day will bring. Some days I wake up not knowing whether I will sleep the same place I woke up or I’ll be pitching my tent (actually I am also not used to tent dwelling) in a new site.
The worst of these uncertainties is when I think we are going to settle down for the night and I find out even the night is going to be used for migration, i.e. the pillar of fire does not stop. One thing though that is reassuring about my new lifestyle is that the cloud is always there by day and the pillar of fire by night (though I have to confess that some sunny days when the sun is particularly bright and the cloud is hazy I get a bit jittery) whether stationery to indicate no movement or in motion to direct where to move next.
The other part of the tension is because I have been assured that the place we are going is flowing with milk and honey. From my little knowledge, such provisions only come by laboring in the farm tending the bee hives, and feeding the cattle to produce the milk. this together with my experience of Egypt as a laborer (no work, no eating), I wake up every morning rearing to go to the garden to plant/till/harvest etc.. This is always met by a constant reminder that I am in the wilderness. There is neither water here nor is there arable land and so I have to do with the daily manna. When I collect my daily provision, the temptation is so high to collect enough for a couple of days until I remember what happened the last time I kept more than for the day. It was very painful to see the food go to waste – it was uneatable because it had some live things moving inside.
The other source of tension is when I remember what I was doing in Egypt. Even among the slaves, I was a supervisor so I was a senior slave. Senior slaves had some privileges that others did not have like being refereed to with their titles – mine was SS1 (Senior Slave level1). The reality in the wilderness is that I don’t enjoy the same status anymore – we are all family and that sometimes does not settle very well with the me that has yet to shift. When all is said and done however, it’s better freedom without portfolio than slavery with a title.
I do not have the privilege of many change of clothes even though the one pair I have has remained intact for a while now without getting worn out and looks like can go a while longer.
As I write this I am smiling thinking to myself how ones value systems/priorities shift when we start seeing our lives and others through the eyes of God, i.e. with a perspective of His eternal purpose. For those somewhere in the wilderness like me, just be reminded that the wilderness is not a destination, but rather a passage way. The destination is Canaan. That said, it is also important to remind ourselves that the wilderness is not just a way to Canaan – if it was only that, God would have led us the shorter route and fight the battles for us(ref). There is a work the wilderness does to us to prepare us for the promised land. It will deal with the Egypt mentality of depending on self and the world system to a dependence on God. Let us allow this work to to be done in us so that when patience has done it’s work, we may be perfect, lacking nothing (James 1:4). This way, I believe, we’ll carry this new way of life (living by His life) into the Canaan land and Deut 28:1-14 will be our reality.”