Questions for Reflection
“The wilderness” can mean so many different things. It generally implies a time of difficulty, lacking in something we feel that we need (or do need for sustenance). Although this image of a dry and barren desert is often associated with the Biblical theme of “the wilderness,” alternatives include a dangerous deluge like Noah’s flood, a hostile environment filled with threats like a Louisiana Swamp, or a completely unfamiliar territory with foreign laws of nature like the moon.
Reflect on your own wilderness times. Times when you have felt the painful barrenness of a personal desert, the innumerable and overwhelming dangers of a life experience, the disorienting unknowns of an environment or season of life.
Did you know you were in a wilderness at the time or only in retrospect?
Were you aware of any provision for you in the midst of it?
What form did that take?
Daily Bread in the Wilderness
The Lord’s Prayer and its phrase of “Give us this day our daily bread” would have been familiar to Jesus’ audience, as he taught it to the disciples, as a reference back to the Israelites wandering in the desert for 40 years and God sending daily manna.
Take a look at that story of the Exodus in Exodus 15 and 16. What parallels can you draw for your life? What are God’s instructions to you for receiving his daily bread?
Provision and Plunder in the Desert
Did you ever think about the role of plunder when the Israelites fled Egypt and wandered in the desert on their way to the Promised Land[NK1] ? God not only instructed them to go but sent them on their way, finally, with possessions that they received from the Egyptians as plunder. Not only was that “payment” for 400 years of mistreatment, but it also gave them provisions for the journey and gold and silver that they would use later, much later, to furnish the tabernacle. Often we are more equipped in the wilderness times than we realize, though the realization of what we have with us may tarry and the fruition of the dormant season may seem long.
Experiencing God’s Presence in the Desert
What do you make of Hosea 2:14 saying, “He allured me into the desert and spoke tenderly to me?” Have you had desert or wilderness times when you experienced God’s kindness?
If you’ve had times of relational wilderness (who hasn’t?), what helped you through it? How can we work to become safe people for others to journey with through a wilderness?
Where is the Wilderness Today?
Are you in any sort of wilderness time right now? How would you describe the landscape of this wilderness? Does anybody know about it? What steps might you take to invite others into it with you so that you are not alone?