Monday, April 17, 2006

Lessons From the Dessert

I spent the holy week alone.

At first I was consumed with loneliness and grief that I hated myself and regretted my decision of not going home. I realized how badly I wanted to spend my time with my family. But after much thought, I realized my original intention of not going home. I wanted to spend that time for some serious solitary reflection. And in the end, I proved to myself that I made a right decision after all. The holy week had opened me to some realizations, that has enabled me now to appreciate the journey of life even more.

Allow me to indulge myself in sharing you one of my favorite reflections:

“The Lord Your God will lead you, and He will fight for you, just as you saw Him do in Egypt, and in the dessert…He went in front of them in a pillar of fire by night and a pillar of cloud by day.” (Deuteronomy 1:30-31; 33b)

I like this verse very much. It talks about God’s guidance, protection, power and provision. Right from the beginning the Lord has never left the Israelites. In fact He was the One who led them along the journey. God designed everything from their exit to Egypt up to their final destination. Everything was perfect in accordance to His will. Everything – including the Israelite’s hardships under pharaoh. In fact, God Himself hardened the pharaoh’s heart - so that God would be able to make His power and glory known to all men. Nevertheless, God provided a way out for them.

Along their journey, God was with them. He led, fed and protected them. Despite their nomadic lifestyle, God made their living conditions comfortable. The pillar of light provided the people with adequate warmth and light. While the pillar of cloud protected them from the heat and other harsh elements. Not to mention of course the manna and sparrows which literally came from heaven.

Yet despite all these blessings the Israelites still remain ungrateful, always complaining, doubtful, and to some extent hard headed. As I read along, I always ask in unbelief … Why? … How come? … How could they?

As I sought for answers, I realized that I am no different from these Israelites. Looking at my life – I can see how God has blessed me. How those abounding goodness could not be possible without God. Truly, my past is a life worth living again. (That at times, I find myself wishing to go back to that life)

But like the Israelites, I must move on or else I would not reach the place where God destined me to be. Which I know is far better than my past.

And like the Israelites, I have become ungrateful, always complaining, doubtful and hard headed. In the corner of my room, in the stillness of the night, I secretly slip into a world of melancholy, loneliness, and hopelessness. I have failed to remember how God has blessed me before and how He can still bless me now and forever.

This realization made me see God’s light upon my present bleak feeling. The road to the Promised Land was never a paradise. But God made a way. He did not make a miraculous exhibition by turning the dessert into a garden. But in His own loving supervision He still provided something sufficient, but wonderful as well. Moreover, the pharaoh’s hardened heart was also an instrument in revealing God’s presence. There is such a thing as blessing in disguise. Indeed, all things work for good to those who love God. No matter how bad a situation may feel, beyond it lies God’s will who intended things to be that way for His greater glory.

This brings me to entrusting the Lord with my life. That no matter how things will be, I will remain in faith. Believing that He will be my Protector, Defender, Healer, Provider and Savior. His grace is sufficient for me.

May God always bless me and protect me from any harm. May I enter the promised land victorious.