Friday Devotion with Kim Wu
Some days it takes a leap of faith just to get out of bed in the morning. Do you ever feel like that? The news has been coming at you hard and your heart breaks a little more as story after story of suffering and tragedy washes over you. The pandemic, racial injustice, the economy, politics, and the deepening divide among Americans. Maybe all that is even being layered on top of other personal heartaches. Things that you have been praying over for a long time now, and you’re still waiting for an answer. And you feel like you’ve reached your limit.
You are wandering in a desert wilderness, and the sun is beating down on you relentlessly.
But God provides you the shade of the broom tree in the desert. In 1 Kings 19, we read that Elijah, in despair and fear for his life, came to rest under the shade of the broom tree. And in Genesis 21, Hagar places her son Ishmael under the shade of a bush, which Biblical scholars believe was actually a broom tree. Both instances give us pictures of people wandering the desert, who have come to the end of their ropes and are ready to give up on life.
And then they sit under the broom tree and God ministers to them.
To be clear, the broom tree is not much of a tree. It’s more like a bush. And the shade that it provides is not expansive. It’s small and a little sparse, probably only enough for one person, but the air feels cooler under it. The broom tree’s shade is just enough to allow you to sit a bit and renew your strength before you head back out on the path.
“The Lord watches over you – the Lord is your shade at your right hand; the sun will not harm you by day nor the moon by night.” Psalm 121:5-6 The Lord is near to us - as close as our right hand - and he provides us with just enough shade so we can keep going. So we can take the next step. So we can get out of bed in the morning.
If you want to learn more about the desert wilderness and how God ministers to us when we are in it, join us for a six week study of The Way Through the Wilderness by Rob Renfroe, on Tuesday evenings at 7 pm starting next Tuesday June 30th. Email Kim Wu at email@example.com for details.
Thursday Devotion with Jeremy Vest
Tuesday Announcements with Pastor Will
Monday Devotion with Kim Wu
“Life is not like school. In school, you learn the lesson, then you take the test. In life, first you take the test. Then you learn the lesson.” Rob Renfroe, the author of our new Bible study, The Way Through the Wilderness, says this is what the wilderness is all about.
For God, getting the Israelites out of Egypt was one thing. But getting Egypt out of the Israelites was a whole different matter. Enslaved for over 400 years in Egypt, the Israelites were exposed to the culture and false gods of the Egyptians, and life in the fertile crescent of Egypt bred a culture of self-sufficiency.
God needed the Israelites to trust in Him. To look to Him as the provider of all their needs and leave their past behind them, so they could become the people He needed them to be and represent Him to the rest of the world. So God led the Israelites into the wilderness where he tested and taught them.
The first test came just three days after crossing the Red Sea. They were in the desert and out of water. They arrived at Marah and found the water bitter and undrinkable, and the people began to complain. When Moses cried out to God, God provided for the people, and made the water there sweet for the Israelites. But that was a single source of water for thousands of people. After leaving Marah, they soon came to Elim “where there were twelve springs and seventy palm trees”. The Israelites failed this first test, as they lacked trust that God would provide for them. They were still relying on themselves. But they learned the lesson: Keep walking, even if you are thirsty, and God will meet your needs.
That’s the beauty of the wilderness. It can strip everything else away, and force us to rely on God. It’s where we come to know Him more intimately, and where what we know in our heads becomes what we know in our hearts. Zora Neale Hurston, an author and filmmaker, said “There are years that ask questions, and years that answer.” The space between those? That’s the wilderness, and that’s where we open ourselves up to the possibilities of what lies ahead. That’s where we grow. Let’s not waste the wilderness.
If you want to study and reflect on this idea of wilderness further, join us for a six week study of "The Way Through the Wilderness" by Rob Renfroe on Tuesday evenings at 7 pm starting next Tuesday June 30th. Email Kim Wu at firstname.lastname@example.org for details.