Then they came to Elim, where there were twelve springs and seventy palm trees, and they camped there by the water. – Exodus 15:22
Since our daughter settled in South Carolina, seven hundred miles away, my husband and I used to make the twelve-hour drive to visit with her and her family two or three times a year. We discovered that. At our age, long trips are easier to take if we make frequent stops to rest and avoid road weariness. These days we book a flight.
Thousands of years ago, the Israelites also had a long trip to make. One million men, women, and children left the bondage of Egyptian slavery and trekked across a barren wilderness where there was little to eat or drink, and where they were exposed to rain, wind, sun, and storms, headed for a land flowing with milk and honey. Along the way, they got tired, thirsty, hungry, and discouraged.
But they were on a faith-growing journey, and the One who led them had many lessons to teach them. They failed test after test. Just when they were in the deepest despair and discouragement, hope dwindling and faith faltering, God intervened—with manna from heaven, water from desert rocks, and an oasis with twelve springs of water and seventy palm trees.
I’m sure the weary travelers would have loved to pitch their tents and stay at that oasis the rest of their lives. But eventually they had to move on. The oasis wasn’t their destination.
The Israelites’ journey through the wilderness is a picture of our journey through life. Once the shackles of our bondage to sin are broken, we begin our journey to the Promised Land—Heaven. We, too, struggle through the wilderness, which—just like the Israelites’ journey so long ago—takes up most of the trip. And we, too, encounter oases sprinkled along the way. But we cannot abide in the rest stops. They are there to provide a temporary respite from the difficulties of life, refresh our minds and spirits, and renew our strength.
Sometimes I’d like to find an oasis and move in permanently. But God calls me to venture into the wilderness on a faith-growing journey. And, just like with the Israelites, He will be with me every step of the way.
Thank You, Lord, for the wilderness that stretches my faith and the oases that refresh me and give me the strength to journey on. Amen.
Special-Tea: Read Exodus 15:22-16:1