Peace be with you!
Have you ever so been emotionally exhausted that God felt far away? My past three weeks have been a constant cycle of pack, fly somewhere, be with family and friends for a big event (funerals, a wedding, and a church event), fly home, do laundry, attend appointments and meetings, and repeat. Two of the funerals I attended were for my grandparents; they died only two weeks apart. Then an uncertain situation emerged, adding even more stress. This week has been the first full week I have been home in my own bed (glorious!). My three pups are glad my suitcase is in the closet, and I am staying home for awhile. As I have begun to decompress from the past three weeks, I have found myself and dealing with some explosive emotions
You too have your own stories of wandering in the wilderness as the Israelites do in today’s reading. Some days and weeks God seems so distant and unreachable.
Moses and the Israelites are wandering around the wilderness and aimlessly following an invisible God. They feel lost and confused. The Israelites are asking, “Where is God? Who is God? What does God look like? Are we still his chosen people after breaking the covenant? Is God still leading us to the Promised Land?” The Israelites are getting tired of being in the wilderness and not knowing the answers to these questions. They are growing tired of the endless cycle of collect manna, break down camp, listen to Moses, walk for hours, set up camp, sleep, and repeat. For forty years the Israelites are living in uncertainty, without a place to call home.
Moses goes to God and says, “You know each of us by name, and you respect and love us, yet you have us wandering aimlessly in the wilderness and have not shown yourself to us. How do we know you or one of your agents is with us? Reveal yourself to us” (Exodus 33:12-13, 15-16, 18).
God reassures Moses, “Yes, I know you by name and respect you. I will allow you to see and feel my back when you stand on the rock. When I pass you, I will put my hand over your head, so you do not see my face. I am a gracious and merciful God who shows grace and mercy to his people” (Exodus 33:14, 17, 19-23).
When we feel lost in an endless cycle of explosive emotions, God feels distant and unreachable. We ask, “Where are you, God? Are you here?” These are times I have to force myself to pray and be quiet – to shut out the drama, the endless cycle of demands, and talk to God. Sometimes I feel like a two-year-old who should be put down for a nap as I whine to God. However, these are the times I most need to feel God’s presence and talk with him. I cannot repeat the endless cycle of life without God’s grace and mercy, because when the load is too heavy (and it always is), he carries me through.
Thanks be to God!
Dear Heavenly Father, Thank you for being with the Israelites in the wilderness. Help us to feel your presence in the endless cycle of life. Wrap us up in your arms and carry us through the darkness into the light. Quiet our minds and allow us to hear you. Thank you for your grace and mercy when we get lost. Amen.
Please answer the following reflective questions in the comments below. Please agree to disagree and be respectful to each other. (If you have not already done so, please also take a moment, to sign the behavior covenant by commenting on it.) You can answer as many questions as you would like.
- Are you lost? Where? How?
- How do you find your way back to God?