The story of the Exodus is a familiar one, not so much because it is a story we’ve heard since we were gathered in a circle on the rug in Sunday School. No because we have seen the movie with Charlton Heston over and over again and his superb job of portraying Moses. It is familiar because the Exodus journey is our journey – each and every one of us.
We are born in Egypt. The world of idols, opulent desire to want more and more at the expense of others, and where who you are and where you come from are of utmost importance. It is a self-oriented world of every man for himself, what’s in it for me, and how do I get what I want. Today, our idols are ego, money, power and the desire to have it without working or saving for it. It may be 40 years, 40 days or the last 40 seconds on our deathbed, but once we see Christ and repent, the shackles of slavery are sprung from our hands and feet, and we are drawn to something more – Canaan, the Promised Land.
Through the Blood of the Lamb, Jesus, we are marked and released from the chains of worldly sin and spared the plague of death, just like the Hebrews when they marked their door portals. Today, He parts the Red Sea of selfish desires and we are asked to follow Him through it on the firm ground of faith. We watch as our old selves are drowned, then with a trembling hand reach for the nail-scarred one to lift us up and out of Goshen.
The Hebrews left with the spoils of Egypt in their sack and hundreds of flocks, yet whined that they had no food and God didn’t care about their needs. Instead, they took those spoils and created their own god, a golden calf. Do we do the same with the blessings God has given us? Do we whine that we do not have enough, forgetting what He has already provided? Do we take what He has provided and claim responsibility, creating our own idol?
God goes to prepare us a place, but like the Hebrews, He must prepare us as well. We must travel on the journey through the wilderness until we learn it is He who provides. We thirst, and the Living Water bursts forth from the Rock of our Salvation. Our protection from the desert- our clothes and sandals- are eternal ones which will never wear out,because they are His grace covering us. The manna is His Word which is our daily bread upon which we must feed. His Holy Spirit is the cloud cover which keeps the devil from scorching us by day, then the pillar of fire which protects us through darkness with the Light of Hope.
Along this journey in the Wilderness of Zin we call our earthly life, He is preparing us for Canaan. There will be snares, temptations, and a few blessed oases along the way. Each will have lessons we need to learn. I cannot go on your journey for you, nor can you take mine for me. Yes, our paths may cross as we greet each other on the way, and we can pray together, hold hands and praise, and cry on each other’s shoulders. But though we travel together, we each also travel alone. Each of us must decide daily whether to trust and follow, or to try and gather the manna and take off on our own.
Don’t deny me my journey. Don’t deny anyone theirs. Just pray again and again that they will turn to God for strength and guidance to make it across the desert. When we see another grumble in weakness that God has forgotten them, or notice them digging into their sacks of blessings, forgetting from which it came and creating their own idol, all we are called to do is pray, unless God tell us to lend a hand. It may hurt to watch the ones we love make mistakes in the wilderness, to stop and refuse to follow., or to want to turn around and go back to the Egypt way of life. But we must trust God is in control, sins will be left eventually left behind, and lessons will be learned. After all, is that not what He is doing with us?
God knows the route ahead for each of us and the specific lessons He has for us along the way to Paradise. Allow me my journey and pray for me. I will do the same for you. Pray with me for the ones I know who are ready to give up and claim it is not worth the effort, and the nones who think they can go through it without God’s help. And, pray for those left in Egypt who are watching, that they may choose to embark on this wonderful journey as well.