Wandering in the Desert
|At our first Alpha meeting.|
Now I know that Jesus changes our lives and makes everything better… right? At least that seems to be the story we like to tell. Sure there’s room for the occasional desert (as long as it doesn’t last too long.) We like stories of victory and yet the bible is full of failures and broken people that God somehow in his mercy seems to use in spite of themselves. In fact, one of prevailing narratives of scripture is a story about wandering around in a desert wilderness for 40 years and this gives me hope in the midst of my mess.
I’ve come to realize my spiritual life follows the pattern of Exodus much more closely than I sometimes care to admit. It started off with celebration, as God’s power freed me from slavery and led me through the parting of seas and into the Promised Land! THE END. Right??? I wish it was except, like the Israelites, I woke up the next morning to find myself camping out in the wilderness with an impassable ocean behind me and desert ahead of me. I find myself grumbling and complaining, wanting to turn around and go back to Egypt. I find myself terrified of the giants ahead. I’m distracted by shiny idols that promise fulfillment but leave me empty. Sure, there are still stories of victory and the occasional oasis along the way but the day to day grind is a lot less exciting. I get up each day and collect enough manna to last me for that day—collect too much and it goes bad. I follow God as he leads me on the journey. And every once in a while I look up hoping the next hill will give me a glimpse of the promised land—knowing it’s likely to take my life time to reach.
It’s an interesting place to find one’s self—inviting youth to consider following Jesus knowing the path to the promised land leads through the desert. This summer we have 15 youth signed up to explore more about Jesus through the Youth Alpha Course on Wednesday nights. Please be praying for them as they contemplate following Jesus. Pray for a faith that can last through the fear of giants, the distraction of idols and the heat of the desert.
- Derian Julihn