Monday, May 16, 2011

The Purpose of the Wilderness is the Purpose of Life

We went to the funeral last week of an incredible young man. This always begs the question of why. Not just why did he die, but why do any of us live? I mean, why to everything? Why planet earth?

Although I believe every word of the Bible is absolutely true and historically accurate, I also see many types and shadows in the Old Testament that find greater meaning and fulfillment in the New Testament. For instance, take the story of the Exodus. Moses, the deliverer of Israel, is a type of Christ, our ultimate Deliverer. The Promised Land, while also a literal place, foreshadows heaven, our true home and final resting place. (Hebrews 11:14-16) And the wilderness experience corresponds to our time as pilgrims and wanderers on the earth (Hebrews 11:13). Deuteronomy 8 reveals the purpose of the Israelites' wilderness experience, and by extension sheds light on the purpose of our time on earth.

And you shall remember that the Lord your God led you all the way these forty years in the wilderness, to humble you and test you, to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep His commandments or not. So He humbled you, allowed you to hunger, and fed you with manna which you did not know nor did your fathers know, that He might make you know that man shall not live by bread alone; but man lives by every word that proceeds from the mouth of the Lord. Your garments did not wear out on you, nor did your foot swell these forty years. You should know in your heart that as a man chastens his son, so the Lord your God chastens you. Therefore, you shall keep the commandments of the Lord your God, to walk in His ways and to fear Him. For the Lord your God is bringing you into a good land...   Deuteronomy 8:2-7

So according to this passage, the answer to my question about the purpose of life is... learn to rely on God, let His Word sustain us, keep His commands, and fear Him. The reason He tests and humbles us is so we'll know we can't make it on our own. We're totally at His mercy. The reason He provides for our needs and disciplines us is so we'll know He loves us.

Would we be able to grasp His love apart from our need? His mercy apart from our testing? His deliverance apart from our bondage?

If life's a breeze all the time, it isn't fulfilling its purpose.  Life on earth is supposed to be tough, challenging, painful.  Life is supposed to bring us to the end of ourselves so that we turn to God and rely completely and utterly on Him.  Then that "good land" He's bringing us into becomes the hope that strengthens our faith. 

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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.