What if the Christian life is our time in the desert?
God has already redeemed us like he delivered the Israelites out of Egypt. Our destination is the Promised Land. So what are we doing in the meantime wandering around in the desert of life?
"With your unfailing love you lead the people you have redeemed. In your might, you guide them to your sacred home." Exodus 15:13
"You will bring them in and plant them on your own mountain- the place, O Lord, reserved for your own dwelling, the sanctuary, O Lord, that your hands have established." Exodus 15:17
Have you ever wondered why. What's the point of the Christian life? Why not just beam us up to heaven after saving us? Why not just perfect us now? Why keep us wandering through the desert for 40 years?
Three reasons, I think.
"How long will these people refuse to obey My commands and instructions?" Exodus 16:28
"Now if you will obey me and keep my covenant, you will be my own special treasure from among all the peoples of the earth; for all the earth belongs to me." Exodus 19:5
We know by God's grace that He has kept His end of the covenant despite our not keeping our end. He punishes Israel for their sin, just like He punishes us because He loves us, but He also forgives.
"...for God has come in this way to test you, and so that your fear of Him will keep you from sinning!" Exodus 20:20 in regards to the Lord revealing Himself on Mount Sinai and giving the 10 Commandments.
"They must not live in your land or they will cause you to sin against Me." Exodus 23:33 in regards to the nations currently residing in the Promised Land.
"Build for Me an altar made of earth, and offer your sacrifices to Me... Build My altar wherever I cause My Name to be remembered, and I will come to you and bless you." Exodus 20:24
"You must not hold anything back when you give Me offerings from your crops and your wine." Exodus 22:29
"They must realize that the Sabbath is the Lord's gift to you." Exodus 16:29
"And I will harden the hearts of the Egyptians, and they will charge in after the Israelites. My great glory will be displayed through Pharaoh and his troops, his chariots, and his charioteers. When My glory is displayed through them, all Egypt will see my glory and know that I am the Lord!" Exodus 14:17-18
"By evening you will realize it was the Lord who brought you out of the land of Egypt. In the morning you will see the glory of the Lord, because He has heard your complaints, which are against Him." Exodus 16:6
"There they could see the awesome glory of the Lord in the cloud." Exodus 16:10
"There they saw the God of Israel. Under His feet there seemed to be a surface of brilliant blue lapis lazuli, as clear as the sky itself. And though these nobles of Israel gazed upon God, He did not destroy them." Exodus 24:10
If it weren't for our time of testing here on earth, how could we learn obedience?
This time of testing gives the Lord so many more opportunities to be gracious to us, which in turn gives us so many more opportunities to praise Him for who He is and what He's done.
And finally, it all ultimately rests with God's glory. Our time on earth allows God to show His glory to the nations. Not just to His people, though He does that, too, which leads right back into worship. His care for us causes Him to show His glory to the unbelieving nations, too, like Egypt. So that they will all know that He is the Lord God. They will have no excuse, because they, too have seen the glory of God.
As we learn to obey the Lord more fully, and as we are better able to worship Him as we ought, we also display God's glory. We're here right now to serve as mirrors that reflect God's glory to the world. How's that for perspective?
I have to add that the desert isn't all bad. My husband and I feel we've lived much of our time here camped out near an oasis. God gives those, too. But it is a time of testing and the attitude of the believer should be one of humble acceptance and prayer that He will refine us so that when we do reach the Promised Land, we really will be His holy nation.
- I'm an on-the-run mom to 6 kids who studied and taught exercise science in a previous life. I love all things running, nutrition, and health-related. I usually run at zero dark thirty in the morning and am often quite hungry before, during, and after my run, but I live a rich, full, blessed life with my children, family, and friends. My faith in God is my anchor, and looking to Him and His promises allows me to live fully even when life circumstances are difficult. While running gives me an appetite, my desire is to hunger and thirst for righteousness more than for physical food.