One of the most well-known and beloved stories from the Bible is the Israelites’ heroic Exodus from Egypt. If you’re like me and you grew up watching The Ten Commandments you can picture Charlton Heston as Moses bellowing out “Behold His mighty hand!” over the parting waters of the Red Sea. However, the Exodus from Egypt was only the beginning of Israel’s journey. As the people began to grow impatient with God’s journey for them, they began to rebel against God and wished to return to Egypt. They wandered the desert for 40 years before finally entering the Promised Land.
The journey through the wilderness is symbolic of so much in our spiritual lives – our doubts, our fears, our questions, our struggles. It is symbolic of where we are right now in the midst of living through the worst global pandemic in over 100 years. For many of us, this is our wilderness moment. While the intensity of that moment may vary, we are all in uncharted waters whether that is balancing work and family responsibilities from home or dealing with the loss of a job or the unthinkable loss of a loved one.
Personally, I’ve found that what weighs on me the most is the unknown. When will we finally be able to see our family and friends? Will they all be able to stay safe? When will this be over? When will things go back to normal? And the truth is we just don’t know the answer to these questions. And that has a profound effect on us from a psychological standpoint, especially when the days blend together so easily. It truly feels as though we are left to wander in the wilderness.
But even in our wandering there is hope. Although it’s true that the wilderness presents tough challenges, it can also be a place where God speaks to us in new and profound ways. Some of the most prominent figures in the Bible had transformational wilderness experiences with God that helped them to move forward. In the early church the Desert Fathers and Mothers like Anthony the Great went to live in the deserts of Egypt to live a monastic lifestyle. They focused on stillness, silence, Scripture, and listening for God. They found the presence of the Lord in the wilderness.
This is the theme that we will explore over the next four weeks of Sunday morning worship as we travel Into the Unknown. We will encounter God in the wilderness – both of Scripture and of our current coronavirus society. Where do we still see God In the midst of stay at home orders? Where can we find encouragement to continue to push forward? Where can we continue to care for one another and grow in community?
I hope and pray that this series will resonate with you in these unprecedented times and that even as we are “alone together” we can still have the opportunity to go on this journey together as a church and as a community. And that we may know that God is still with us, even in the unknown.