Finding Your Promised Land
Putting An End To Desert Wandering
Can you imagine being one of the stubborn, terribly cynical Israelites that Moses was trying to lead through the desert for forty years? They were a giant mass of 600,000 people on a journey to someplace they had never been. But they were making the trek because they had been promised a kind of freedom, a land where they could be free from the tyranny they had lived under in Egypt, a land flowing with milk and honey. I can relate. Show me a land flowing with steak and ice cream and I might journey toward it myself, but if I’ve gone a week with no sign of something meaty or creamy, I’m out of there.
These Israelites, as much as they complained, must have believed God’s promise enough to give them the determination to stay the course. I would’ve become tired, distracted, and resentful. I would have had to be reminded over and over exactly why we were doing this whole “wandering through the desert” thing. Probably several times each day.
I imagine my buddy Joab asking our leader, “Hey Moses, you sure you know where you’re taking us?”
Malachi would add, “Now, why exactly are we doing this?”
“This land here looks good enough. I think I can sorta smell honey,” I would add, ready for a break.
Why did God feel like these people shouldn’t reach their Promised Land for such a long time? Why did so many people, including Moses, have to die along the way, never seeing the end of their journey? Would they have stayed home if they had known how things would end up for them?
Are you growing tired of what feels like wandering through your own kind of desert? Do you ever wonder where your journey is taking you? The best answer I can offer is this: It’s leading you where you’re supposed to be. Does that mean that right now you’re where you’re supposed to be? Yes. Does that mean that wherever you end up tomorrow is where you’re supposed to be? Yes. And that there’s actual purpose in the pain and misery of your difficult journey today? Yes. That’s what freedom feels like.
My personal freedom is going to come out of an acceptance of the present—choosing to be fully aware of what is happening around me and learning all that needs to be learned from it. All the while, trusting the story isn’t finished. That perhaps the best is yet to come.
A huge part of my journey has been learning how to live in this dichotomy: where I am right now is a really good place, even though I’m not yet where I’m going to be in the future.
Many days I feel like I’m going nowhere, like I’m stuck in Groundhog Day. And the quietness of the present feels like emptiness more than freedom. But when I’m resting in the Love surrounding me and within me, I’m convinced that even today, no matter how I feel or how bleak things look, I’m where I’m supposed to be. My Promised Land becomes the place I am now, as opposed to where I anticipate going. It becomes more about who I am and what I’m carrying with me, than a particular destination. So no matter where life takes me, that will also be exactly where I’m supposed to be, and chances are it won’t look anything like I think it should.
One of my favorite authors, Anne Lamott, suggested that Moses and the Israelites wandered for so long so they would have a chance to redefine what they thought their Promised Land should look like. To me, it looks like they had to be stripped of all their expectations.
They had to struggle.
They had to watch their loved ones die.
They had to be hungry, thirsty, and tired.
They had to be chased through the desert and the sea by ferocious enemies.
They had to be blinded to their destination.
All so they would better see how truly incapable they were of creating their own Promised Land, and how being able to receive the most beautiful gifts can only happen with completely empty hands.
What or Whom Are You Putting Your Trust In?
I imagine the only way the Israelites were able to traverse the desert for so long was because they trusted their leader. The vision was cast for their Promised Land and they kept their faith alive by keeping the vision alive, even throughout the hardships they faced.
For me, the idea of the Promised Land is less about a particular destination toward which I’m heading and more about learning a new way to walk through every single day I’m alive. Armed with faith, trust, hope, and love, I can accept whatever comes my way. I don’t have to fight against life any longer.
What’s taken us so long? And why aren’t we living this way already? It is because we’ve been taught a false gospel, one that had more to do with us getting what we wanted out of life, thinking that would certainly make God look good. The truth is found when we remember what Jesus did—He came to show us how to die. And most of us have been living desperately trying to avoid dying. You can’t really put “Come to our church and learn how to die” on a billboard and expect people to show up for your bleak message.
Unless the dying is to shame, fear, and control, and more about living authentically as the Beloved. And the surrendering is more about freedom than captivity.
You won’t be able to keep people away.
This is (for the most part) an excerpt from my book Losing Control: Finding Freedom By Letting Go available on Amazon or from my web store. If you’d like an Audible credit to listen to the whole book for FREE just let me know in the comment section.
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