This year Ready for the Road Ahead is taking on a new direction. It is one that follows the grand theme of sight in all aspects which runs throughout Scripture. My weekly writings will be excerpts from a book of the same name which should be published (Lord willing) later this year.
When our boys were young we didn’t have a lot of money for family vacations so we became very creative in how we took them. We called our vacations “mystery trips”. While Jeff kept the boys occupied I would pack the car with the necessary items and then we would announce we were going for a drive. Most of the time our trips were picnics at the park or going to the DQ for an ice cream. The best ones though involved an overnight stay near the beach. We’d get up, have breakfast and load them into the car as if we were going to the supermarket or some place local. But when we passed by all the usual stomping grounds and headed on to the highway the excitement level would rise in the back seat and the inevitable question, “Where are we going Mom?” would be asked. “It’s a mystery!” I’d reply and our sons would then proceed to look for clues as to our destination.
The Bible is full of people who set out on journeys to unknown locations- at least unknown to most of them. Perhaps the grandest journey of them all was the trip taken by the entire nation of Israel when they left Egypt and headed out to the Promised Land. Ex. 2: 25 says that God “saw the sons of Israel and took notice of them” because the burden of their slavery was so great. He selects a unique man to be His liaison. Born a Hebrew, raised in the Egyptian courts and self-exiled to Midian during his young adulthood, Moses was about to lead a nation “home” although none of them had ever been there! His genetic connection put him on par with the people. His knowledge of Egyptian protocol helped to maneuver the request to leave before the ruling pharaoh. And his experience in the wilderness would help to guide the nation through that vast area which separated them from the land of promise. This was going to be the ultimate mystery trip!
I love to take pictures when I go on a trip. Those snapshots help to remind me of the special sights and sounds I experienced on that journey. Although the Israelites did not have pictures in a scrapbook or photos saved in their iPhones many Scriptures provide snapshots of the Wilderness Mystery Trip for us to “see”. Those pictures are not always flattering. While the people did see the Lord work in amazing ways, the Lord also saw some pretty selfish and disobedient behavior on the part of the people. They complained and grumbled about the food and water, the accommodations, leadership and more (Ex. 15:22-27; 16:1-3; 17:1-3; Num. 12:1-16; 16:3; 20:2-3). As a result some of their snapshots include several plagues (Ex. 32:35; Num. 16:41), the ground opening up and swallowing the rebellious (Num. 16:31), fire (Num. 11:1-3; 16:35) and venomous snakes when they complained about life if the desert (Num. 21:4-8). They even complained about the manna (Num. 11:4-6)! And yet in spite of their pitiful behavior, God still led them through the wilderness and once that disbelieving generation had passed, He brought them to the border of Canaan with this admonition from Moses, “Remember all the way which the Lord your God has led you in the wilderness these 40 years, that He might humble you, to know what is in your heart, whether you would keep His commandments or not.” (Dt. 8:2).
Our travels along this road we call life can certainly have its twists and turns. It can appear to be an open highway stretching out forever only to be stopped by unexpected construction and lane closures. It can have bumps and detours which jar the spine and make us wish our car had better suspension yet suddenly bring us to a scenic overlook with a spectacular view that makes the rough road worthwhile. As much as we try to plan for it or map out a better route, there is really only one thing we can be sure of- no matter where the road goes, the Lord has taken us on this journey to see what’s in our heart. The question is that when we look at the pictures of our journey and where it is taking us, will we complain about the food, the water, the desert surroundings or the people in our lives? Or will we move forward confidently knowing that our “mystery trip” is no mystery to the Good Shepherd who knows exactly where we should go?
Ann H. LeFevre, M. Div.
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