March 24, 2021
Pastor Dan Hollis
A wilderness journey often reminds us what we’re missing—our shortcomings, our gaps, our insufficiencies. Trudging along a desert highway from your broken-down car to the gas station miles away with four drops left in your water bottle is an easy way to be reminded that self-sufficiency is at best wishful thinking, and at worst pure myth. The wilderness journey of Lent we’ve been trudging along for the last month can have a similar effect. As many of us have discovered, self-reflection when all the window-dressings and wallpapering of our lives are stripped away can expose for us plenty of water stains, bent nails, cracking drywall, and sections that really should have had some insulation installed a long time ago. I think a year of pandemic has served the same function.
But the reading that Pastor Eric’s devotional discussion group is tackling this coming Sunday (Exodus 3:1-15) shows us something else that can be discovered in a wilderness journey, and it’s something that those of us who have a challenging relationship with self-esteem may find particularly difficult to recognize.
Moses, in the wilderness surrounding Mount Horeb, asked the same kind of question that we’ve heard in Psalm 8 (Who are we that God should care about us?): “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh, and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?”
Moses knew his limitations. He had a speech impediment, which could make it difficult for him to lead or inspire anyone. He was raised by Egyptians, the very people who oppressed the Israelites he would need to trust him. And he was in exile for killing an Egyptian, which might make chatting with the Egyptian Pharaoh a little bit complicated.
And yet, God didn’t blink. Moses was the one God wanted to do this, so by gum Moses was gonna do it. You may not have the words, you may not have the bona fides, you may have some bad stuff in your past, but you have Me.
In a season, a wilderness season, when so many give up something, or have something taken from them, and realize just how little they have—how little they are—without it… perhaps it’s also time to recognize what we do have, and what we are, without it.
Throughout this pandemic, we have seen how much meaning, purpose, and joy life can leave us without. We have been humbled by just how low the inability to work, to go to a restaurant, to shop without fear, or to gather with friends can truly bring us. But if you haven’t also noticed, when all that is taken away from you, who you are and what you have that shines bright and stands strong even when all the trappings are taken away, then you haven’t been paying close enough attention. And you better start now, because the end of that particular wilderness journey is coming closer and closer every day.
Don’t miss this opportunity to realize who you are. We can’t and shouldn’t ignore the humbling lessons we have learned, but by the same token we can’t and shouldn’t miss the revelation God has hidden inside the Tootsie Roll Pop of our lives: needs or not, shortcomings or not, you’ve got something special inside you that endures no matter how many licks you take.
Just like Moses, you’ve got what it takes to do great things even in the face of all the adversity the world can throw at you. And just like Moses, you have God by your side always. Even in the wilderness.
Together, we can bring Christ's word and work to the world.