Have you ever wandered in a wilderness? I have certainly felt at times as if I was wandering in a wilderness . . . abandoned, confused, disoriented.
The Bible tells the story of the children of Israel wandering in the wilderness for a very long time. We find one reference to that story in Numbers 32:13.
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.
Certainly no wilderness wandering that I have experienced has been that long and grueling. Yet I do know about a personal wilderness journey. I know how lonely it feels, how forsaken. I know that it seems to go on forever with no end in sight. I know that such wilderness journeys can happen when one is ill, isolated, disheartened, grieving or simply feeling empty.
Numbers concludes with the Israelites coming to the end of the long, hard journey. They are now standing on the Plains of Moab, just across the river from the promised land. This is where Moses gives his final commission to the people. And in the next book, Deuteronomy, the end of the wandering in the wilderness becomes a reality.
Look, he has placed the land in front of you! Go up, take possession of it, just as the Lord, the God of your ancestors, said to do. Do not be afraid or discouraged!” – Deuteronomy 1:21
And that’s the good word we need to hear. Our wandering is over. God has walked beside us through whatever wilderness we travelled. We are free to move into our own land of promise where life is no longer filled with fear and discouragement. The magic, though, is this: coming out of the wilderness is our choice. God has the land of promise ready for us. We need only to walk into it with courage and fresh hope.