In the wake of the recent months as we have weighed the impact of a global pandemic, the experience of the Hebrew people leaving Egypt and wandering through the wilderness can serve as our guide. They discovered the wilderness is wild! It was not wild like a rollercoaster, but wild like the untamed desert.
They faced limitations and uncertainty, elements outside of their control and threats beyond their reach. They were afraid and had to remember that God was with them on the journey. They found ways to worship, like building the Tabernacle, and learned to look for God’s presence, even finding water from a rock. No one knew the answers to every question or the path forward, like holding a map in their hands.
We have been forced to rethink so much! Even simple tasks have been changed by the threat of a pandemic. For the ministry of the church, we have had to rethink Vacation Bible School, Passport Youth Camp, and Passport Kids Camp. In our lives, we have had to rethink all of our activities, gatherings, and priorities.
For the Hebrew people, what did they take with them from their experience, which speaks to us now? First, they realized God heard their cries. God did not turn away from their laments, grief, or struggles. Second, they saw their neighbor differently. They had a first-hand experience of needing the help of others, so in the future, they felt called to treat their neighbors differently, especially the vulnerable.
Lastly, they had to rethink what was truly important, like gratitude, repentance, and grace. They would give thanks for all that was good, knowing the power of gratitude to open us up to God’s presence, as they acknowledged even the hidden grace in their lives. They also realized that repentance is an act of love. It is an act of love towards God and towards our neighbor.
If repentance is an act of love, grace is the reason. Grace is the reason we give thanks or repent. It is the reason we rethink our priorities or celebrate our joy. Grace is the reason we can navigate the wilderness, which is wild. It gives meaning for the journey and hope for tomorrow!
We do not have answers to all of our questions, but as we rethink so much, we can take note of those who have navigated this type of journey before.