Wondering In The Wandering
(5 min read)
Take a look at the diagram....
If you had to walk it, which path would you choose?
Hopefully you would choose the shorter one, Path 1, right? And I bet it’s because you know that the laws of differential geometry teach us that on a 2 dimensional plane, the shortest distance between two points is a straight line, sometimes called a “geodesic”. (Ok, so I always wanted to be a math teacher… but don’t worry, I’m done talking about math now.)
What’s crazy is, the longer, squiggly-er (spellcheck, where are you?) Path 2 line is actually the path that the Jewish people took from Egypt to the promised land. So... it would seem that the Israelites decided to skip geometry day at Egyptian slave school.
What should have been an 11 day journey, maybe a little more since they were hauling over 2.4 million people (Imagine the amount of bathroom breaks. I can just hear the heads exploding of dads reading this). Instead, it took them 40 years to arrive at the Promised Land and very, very few of them even got to go in.
Scripture tells us that it was God’s plan all along.
When Pharaoh let the people go, God did not lead them on the road through the Philistine country, though that was shorter. For God said, “If they face war, they might change their minds and return to Egypt.” So God led the people around by the desert road toward the Red Sea.
Even though God was the one leading the people through the desert with a pillar of cloud by day and pillar of fire by night, I guarantee that the people felt like they were wandering. They left Egypt for the unknown, following a man that supposedly had a “conversation" with God through a "burning bush", like... sure Moses... did you talk to God through a burning bush, or did you "burn some bush" and “talk to God”, right? BUT when he holds his staff up and the Red Sea splits, all of those people cross, and the Egyptians drown in that path behind them, the Israelites are like, “Ohhh shoot, ok, this dude fo real fo real.”
So they left Egypt and wandered in the desert for 40 years on a journey that could have only taken them 11 days. We know reading Exodus 13:17-18 however, that the path they avoided was the path of the Philistines, because the Jew’s weren’t ready for that war.
So they wandered... and wandered... and wandered…
I’m a firm believer that when you wander for long enough, eventually you also start to wonder.
I bet as the Jews were wandering through the desert they started to wonder... “Why? Why are we walking through this desert? Are we ever going to get there? Is God even really with us?" I bet after 20 or 30 years, they probably started to wonder, “Why did we start this journey to begin with? Can’t we just go back? At least when we were enslaved we had food and shelter, and some semblance of purpose... I mean, at least we were building something…" I bet they wondered… "What does other food taste like? These wafers are starting to get old. Where’s the milk and honey we were promised?”
They wondered where God was. Then, they started to make new idols to worship. I think not only had they wandered too far, they had also wondered too far.
It happens all the time.
I feel like we can get there too, and for many of us, much easier than 40 years. We live in the lap of luxury in this country. We aren’t wandering a desert, but sometimes it feels like our lives are wandering all over the place, and we begin to wonder why?
Why isn't God showing up in my life?
Why can't I get over this bitterness?
Why can't I beat this addiction?
Why can't my marriage be happy and satisfying like their marriage?
Why isn't my life fulfilling?
Maybe you’ve been following God for 20 or 30 years like they did in the desert and feel like you haven’t gotten anywhere. And you're wondering why you set out on this journey to begin with?
Here’s something I’ve learned from the Israelites: when you narrow your focus on what God wants for you it's a lot easier to find what God is trying to give you.
When you narrow your focus on what God wants FOR you it's a lot easier to find what God is trying to give TO you.
God wanted the Israelites to have Jericho, but the Israelites had wandered too far not just physically, but spiritually, to the point that God was angry.
Numbers 32:13 says
The LORD's anger burned against Israel and he made them wander in the wilderness forty years, until the whole generation of those who had done evil in his sight was gone.
We know that eventually, God redeems Israel and they make it to the promised land, but most of them did not make it in. Many of them died in the desert, never seeing the promise of God fulfilled in their lifetime.
So I have 2 questions for you...
First, What is your Jericho? Get it in your mind. What is it that you feel like you are wandering in the desert for? What are you praying so desperately for?
Is your Jericho healing?
Is your Jericho a restored marriage?
Is your Jericho a son or a daughter that needs to come home?
Is your Jericho a new job?
Is your Jericho freedom from addiction or depression?
I want you to get it in your mind, because it's time to narrow your focus on God, and allow Him to come in and give you direction.
But here’s my second question, what needs to die off? The generation that was disobedient and evil in God’s eyes had to be removed before Israel could have the promised land. What needs to be removed for you to enter into your Jericho?
Is it negative thought patterns?
Is it what you look at on a screen while no one is around?
Is it complacency or entitlement like we talked about in my last blog?
Is it comparison to that “friend” on instagram?
Is it bitterness or pride?
Some of you have been a Christian for a really long time, but you’ve been living in the same disobedience for years. You just do the same thing week after week, and you have forgotten why you gave your life to Christ in the first place.
What do you have that you can’t carry into Jericho? Maybe today you need to pray Psalm 139:23 “Search me, oh God” like David did.
David knew something when he was praying that prayer. He went back to the time that he was anointed to be King and remembered that God doesn’t look at the outward appearance, but He looks at the heart. So David didn’t ask, God look at me and show me what I already know needs to change. No, he said "Search me Oh God and know my heart; try me and know my thoughts: and see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting." He was asking God to light up the deepest darkest depths of his heart and reveal anything that wasn’t of God. Maybe that’s the prayer that some of us need to pray today.
It’s time to stop wandering unknowingly and start marching unswervingly.
Where have you been wandering and wondering at in life? What is one way that you can start marching unswervingly? Let me know in the comments below 👇🏼