(I have written about this journey we are on a few times before, to read the beginning of the story click here, and here).
One of the things that I love about the word of God is it's literary diversity.
Penned by dozens of men, inspired by the living God, it is full of of the kinds of things that make writers and readers heart's race... allegory, poetry and prose, metaphors, imagery and similes.
There is enough romance to claim the lover's heart, and enough war to satisfy the bloodthirsty, enough tragedy to engage the compassionate soul, and enough redemption to renew the brokenhearted.
It is as timeless as the living God.
It is truth. It is challenge. It is alive.
The Master Poet in His Word, wove together history and truth in a way that will never grow stale and is always applicable now, whenever now may be.
If I had to choose the historic circumstances that have most deeply resonated with me in these last few months, I would take you to Deuteronomy 31. Here the scene is set: The Israelites are nearing the end of their 40 years wandering in the desert. The size of God's people had grown dramatically, just as God had promised.
"The Lord your God has multiplied you, and behold, you are today as numerous as the stars of heaven." -Moses, Deuteronomy 1:10
They are one river-crossing away from the Promised Land. They are as ready as they will ever be.
Then Moses, their leader from the time they fled from Egypt, makes his final address to the people.
And he said to them, "I am 120 years old today. I am no longer able to go out and come in. The Lord has said to me, ‘You shall not go over this Jordan.’ 3 The Lord your God himself
will go over before you. He will destroy these nations before you, so
that you shall dispossess them, and Joshua will go over at your head, as the Lord has spoken. 4 And the Lord will do to them as he did to Sihon and Og, the kings of the Amorites, and to their land, when he destroyed them. 5 And the Lord will give them over to you, and you shall do to them according to the whole commandment that I have commanded you. 6 Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the Lord your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you.” Deuteronomy 31:1-6
I cannot get over the feeling of anxiety and fear that must have settled in some of the hearts in the crowd that day. They were going ahead. Their leader was staying behind.
This is the exact image God put on my heart earlier this year when He asked us to move to a new church community. Fear, apprehension, and anxiety met with total clarity, comfort, and certainty that our God was going to lead us to the place He had promised to us.
The fear, the anxiety, the apprehension was rooted in the fact that for most of my life, I was led by the people who meet in the white stucco building with an angled roof and steeple on top. A place full of mentors, teachers, counselor and friends...people who prayed for us, hoped for us, and delighted in our children.
Our God was asking us to leave these precious ones behind. To break camp and advance into the Promised Land, sans the leaders we had come to love.
Immediately following His request came this revelation: A place becomes your wilderness the second God calls you to go somewhere new.
It is not the place that is bad or wrong in and of itself, it is knowing that to stay would be to disobey... That is what turns even a good place into a wilderness.
Conversely, What makes the promised land great is not the place in and of itself, but rather the fact that it is exactly where God is asking you to go.
Obedience: Promised Land. Disobedience: Wilderness.
And so we had our orders, and so God broke our camp and we advanced. Loved ones behind us, the Lord God before us.
(To be continued.)
(An influential article I recently read can be found HERE. Beth Moore's description of "breaking camp" echos my heart, her post is definitely worth reading).