History will record the well-worn unprecedented as the word for 2020. January of 2021 claims it also.
We find ourselves “on edge” as we are on the edge of an unknown new year. Adrenalin rises (as does our blood pressure) while watching newscasts or surveying our own uncertain situations.
Long ago and far away others faced frightening unknowns.
“And they moved on from Succoth and encamped at Etham, on the edge of the wilderness.” Exodus 13:20 ESV
What do we do when we find ourselves at the edge of the wilderness? What better word than wilderness could explain what we’re all facing as the days of this new year come and go? The national chaos in the USA these days may shout loudly to the world, but each of us faces a wilderness that no one else may ever experience. Maybe we have that empty, left-behind feeling when a loved one dies … worry creeps in about money to pay bills … rebellious lifestyles of loved ones break our hearts … personal health and well-being concerns overwhelm us … the wilderness of the unknown looms large.
The account in the Exodus story has God’s people cliff hanging between cruel slavery behind them and a foreboding desert in front of them. Can you feel their fears?
“By day the Lord went ahead of them in a pillar of cloud to guide them on their way and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light so they could travel by day or night.” Ex. 13:21 ESV
Going ahead of them.
Fast forward many centuries to another wilderness. Jesus’ cousin, John the Baptizer, had just been cruelly murdered. Heavy with sorrow He calls His disciples to come away with Him to the wilderness to get some rest. Maybe in this solitary place they could grieve and regroup.
But the crowd sees where they are headed and outruns the boat!
So much for the getaway retreat. Postponing His own P & R (prayer and restoration), He does something amazing.
“When He went ashore he saw a great crowd, and He had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. And He began to teach them many things” Mark 6:34). Later He miraculously feeds the thousands of empty stomachs.
January 2021 again. The same God of the pillar of cloud and fire has left His Word for our protection and direction. “The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear?” Psalm 27:1a
Don’t know Him like that?
Make this year different.
Take Jesus up on His offer:
“Come to me all of you
who are weary
and carry heavy burdens
and I will give you rest.”(Matthew 11:28 NLT)
Watch how He shows up at the edge of your wilderness!