Wednesday, December 29, 2010

The Acorn

“The Israelites wandered in the desert 40 years; if Moses had been a woman, they’d have stopped to ask directions.” This old joke got quite a laugh during Adult Discussion Group on Sunday morning a few weeks ago. Men hate to ask directions; every male in the room acknowledged this truism. But the jab at the men gave our group the opportunity to ask ourselves, “Why did God’s people have to stay lost forty years? Wasn’t God guiding them to the Promised Land?” Yes, but this wasn’t the kind of journey that can be hurried. The Hebrews had been slaves in Egypt. They’d been adept at following orders – those of taskmasters and ultimately, Pharaoh. Their grumbling in the wilderness (“Moses, did you bring us out here to die? At least in Egypt we had food to eat!) reveals the level of their insecurity in their newfound freedom. (Ex 16:3, 17:3) Could they depend on God? They had to learn for themselves that God was at least as trustworthy as Pharaoh and that liberation from a foreign lord necessitated the forging of a new identity. These changes take time, years even. Attitudes have to change. People have to change. The way the Hebrews knew and understood themselves had to change. This nation that wasn’t yet a nation would become the people of God during that journey.  Isn’t it the same for us? Our journey to self-understanding and faith in God is a process, not something that can be accomplished overnight. There are seasons of experimentation and growth, fear and trembling, trial and temptation, trust and growth. We cycle through the seasons until we’re ready to walk into the land to which God has led us. Let us thank God today for being our pillar of fire by night and our pillar of cloud by day and for walking ahead of us each step of the journey. Thanks be to God.