Do you ever feel like you don’t know what to do next? Or maybe you know what you want, or where you need to go but you can’t get there. Are you feeling stuck right now? Have you ever felt stuck and then somehow moved beyond it? This Lent we will be reading Bible stories on Wednesdays at noon that tell us about the wilderness. For the Children of Israel, the Chosen People, their time in the Sinai Wilderness was a time where many of the people felt stuck. Some wanted to go right into the Promised Land (they weren’t ready), some wanted to return to Egypt (they couldn’t), and at one point Moses asks God to let him die. Feeling stuck is not fun.
When Israel was in the wilderness it was a difficult time. There were no resources in the wilderness, it was a desert and the people had to depend on God’s providence. They were not in control. They were given enough to live each day. They could not go back but they also were not ready to go forward. For 40 years they were in the wilderness.
It is no coincidence that Lent is 40 days long. Wilderness times are times for God to work on us, to transform us, as God did the Chosen People. God changed them from a slave nation into a warrior nation. He made them a holy people who would be a light to the nations. And God does the same with us in the wilderness times of our lives. The wilderness times, like this pandemic, bring out the worst and the best in people. The wilderness time is God’s most powerful tool as he transforms us into his likeness and gives us the Mind of Christ. Look what the wilderness time did for Jesus!
The wilderness is not something we choose, but the Holy Spirit does some of her most creative work on us in those times. We can cooperate with the process, or we can fight against it. Maybe we do both. Either way, God is working on us. And sometimes, probably most of the time, it is only pain that causes change. I hope you can make it to worship at least a few times at noon on Wednesdays during Lent. The wilderness is always easier to deal with when you can journey together.
God’s peace, Pr. Bob Albing