Imagine being a thirty-something who’d spent your entire life living a nomadic existence in the desert. You’d played on the hard-baked sand as a child. You’d nursed your babies in a tent pitched next to a lone barren tree. The repetition of a lifetime manna-diet mirrored the bleached, unchanging environment in which you’d laughed, loved, lived.
And worshipped: your Sabbath rest the only punctuation in an unchanging march of days through an unchanging terrain toward…
Maybe you’d forgotten whatwherewhy. A life spent in the desert gave you no context for the “what’s next” of this journey. All you’d known was the journey, and it was home.
God handed ancient Moses the stopwatch and whispered, “Time’s up”. Moses told his people:
“Observe the commands of the LORD your God, walking in his ways and revering him. For the LORD your God is bringing you into a good land—a land with streams and pools of water, with springs flowing in the valleys and hills; a land with wheat and barley, vines and fig trees, pomegranates, olive oil and honey; a land where bread will not be scarce and you will lack nothing; a land where the rocks are iron and you can dig copper out of the hills” ( Deut. 8:6-9).
Can you imagine these fairy-tale images being spoken into the souls of people who’d never experienced anything but desert? What context could these 40-and-under wanderers have for a watered land, a variety of dining options, a land from which to build, to create, to call home?
Yesterday at church as I mediated on these verses, the unreality of these words struck me. I am a wanderer, and there is a destination. This I know. But when someone attempts to describe my destination – heaven – my deepest longings and imagining beyond the mapped terrain of my own soul can not comprehend where I am going. I have no context. It is an act of faith to pull up my tent pegs and move purposefully toward home.