Still Wandering

Perhaps at this mid-point in Lent, you are weary of hearing of deserts and fasting; enough with mortality, death, temptation and testing. Let’s get to the celebration; let’s get to Easter.

But we cannot rush through the dry places. We cannot hurry the journey through the wilderness. As we know from our experiences, growth never comes through ease.

As I reflected on the story from Exodus 17—another wilderness narrative and the lectionary text for this past week–where the people of God are camped at Rephidim, I was drawn to the revealing and yielding.  

The quarrels accounted for in the text seem to reveal fear and forgetfulness. And this initially yields blame: the context, circumstances, the very landscape itself. And it is true that wilderness experiences put us in touch with discomfort. The wilderness reveals our vulnerabilities.

Recently, I was asked to record a video message for a friend’s birthday. A few days later, I awoke well before my alarm with the sentiment formed:

It has been said that midlife is where dreams go to die.

(Is midlife a type of wilderness?) In the Exodus account, what ultimately seems to be revealed in the wilderness wondering and wandering is God’s faithfulness and provision. Resources from what seems like nothing, from a place of barrenness. God makes life flow in unexpected ways because our God is always making life in places of death.

After my dramatic birthday message opener, I went on to say:

Perhaps midlife is the place where we dream anew…       

And this is my hope to for you and for me as we navigate the wildernesses we face. When we reach the end of our resources, when the questions arise, when we must face our fears (and our forgetfulness) may we risk dreaming again.

When we find ourselves in the weariness of wilderness

When we find ourselves in the uncertainty and barrenness

When our thirst seems unquenchable—

May we dare to hope for living water.

May we dare to trust that God will provide.

When we long to return to the familiar comforts of the past

When we are deep in grief for what is lost

May we remember who we are and whose we are

And may we be alert for the signs of resurrection. 

May it be so.

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