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Lent Devotional 2020 – March 12

PRAY

Show me Your glory, I pray.
Exodus 33:18

READ

Then Moses ordered Israel to set out from the Red Sea,
and they went into the wilderness of Shur. They went for
three days in the wilderness and found no water. When they
came to Marah, they could not drink the water of Marah because
it was bitter. That is why it was called Marah. And the people
complained against Moses, saying, “What shall we drink?”
He cried out to the LORD; and the LORD showed him a piece
of wood; he threw it into the water, and the water became sweet.
Exodus 15:22-25

Have you ever searched through stacks of travel brochures dreaming of a fantasy vacation? Finally, you settle on your Shangri-La destination, pay your money and go; but when you get there the place is a huge disappointment! “This doesn’t look anything like the brochures,” you complain to management. “This is not what you promised!” You want your money back and the first flight home.

One might wonder if this is what the Israelites felt when, a few weeks out of Egypt, they end up in the Wilderness. They leave behind the rich Nile delta, a cradle of civilization, and end up in a fiercely hot desert waste, with only bitter water to drink. Do you think they might have betrayed? God had promised them something more. “I declare that I will bring you up out of the misery of Egypt, to…a land flowing with milk and honey” (Exodus 3:17). But God’s pillars of cloud and fire have led them into this Wilderness!

And yet, God is leading them there; they are not just wandering. For the Exodus is more than just a journey through time and space, but a journey towards transformation. We will see that it is one thing for God to get the Israelites out of Egypt; it is something else for God to get Egypt out of the Israelites. It will take time, for the Wilderness is a school of the soul, a crucible for personal growth and maturation. It will, at times, feel like God abandons His people in the Wilderness, but the Wilderness is where they learn more about who God is and what it means to rely on Him.

As the Israelites are “types” of our journey, so our growth will require Wilderness time. Often when we are delivered from our ‘Egypt’ we go immediately expecting to arrive in the Promised Land. We say a glad goodbye to a dysfunctional relationship, a demeaning job, enslaving addiction, and any kind of loss; we hope to wake up the next day to milk and honey. But instead there is bitter water. We find ourselves in a ‘no-man’s land’, stuck between the old and the new. The Wilderness might leave us worrying about finances, family, faith, and the future. But it is God who leads us into the Wilderness, and God who will lead us through it.

I was a young boy at church camp when I learned a song that has helped me in my Wilderness time. I hope it might be helpful for you.

My Lord knows the way through the wilderness,
All I have to do is follow.
My Lord knows the way through the wilderness,
All I have to do is follow.
Strength for today is mine all the way,
And all that I need for tomorrow.
My Lord knows the way through the wilderness,
All I have do to is follow.
(Sydney Coxl, “My Lord Knows the Way through the Wilderness”)

It is in the Wilderness – not in Egypt or the Promised Land – that we learn that God knows how to make bitter water, sweet. Between Egypt and the land flowing with milk and honey, there is a Wilderness. But it is in the Wilderness that we shall learn to walk with God!

REFLECT

  • Have you ever felt yourself in a Wilderness? Do you feel you are in a Wilderness now? What does your Wilderness feel like?
  • Why do you think God might have “led” you into the Wilderness?

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