Just as the Children of Israel began their long, arduous journey into the Wilderness, so we find ourselves in our own wilderness. We, like they, have left a life or hardship and are headed towards a land we believe is better—a land God is drawing us into.But how do we survive whatever wilderness we find ourselves in right now? We may feel emotionally lost; relationally poor, vocationally searching, politically off course; materially starving and spiritually challenged. It truly does not take long for us to realize our own wilderness—whether individually; in church, workplace or nationally.There's no better time that right now in Advent and preparing for Christmas to sit with these thoughts.In the midst of such a whirlwind, how do we move forward, onward, upward to a place that is at last for us NOT wilderness? The Children of Israel needed guidance and guidance was provided. We need guidance too because the surest form of any kind of wilderness is to realize that you really are lost, alone and tired.God’s provision for them is the same for us today. God provided manna and quail and God provided this food for body and soul every single day—except for one day. The people were told, every day, there will be “enough.”The word “enough” is what tripped them up and it is the same word that trips us up. What is enough? Should we hoard so that we can live in a false security—an illusion of provision by stockpiling? [tweetthis]The seduction of safety---the illusions of what really is enough is what keeps people getting back on the hamster wheel. It is what keeps people in fifth gear. It is what really is wilderness.[/tweetthis]The fear of not having enough makes us not only hoard but it motivates us to foster an erroneous view of what security really looks like and feels like. We hoard more than money these days. We hoard adventure, pleasure, spiritual experiences, and even relationships. We will hoard anything and anyone that gives us the sense of security that only God can give.The Children of Israel were told three things:
- You’ll be given what you need for each day.
- Don’t hoard the manna.
- You must not gather—work—or strive to do anything on the Sabbath.
What if our guidance right now--no matter what our wilderness might be is the same guidance as the Children of Israel:
- Trust in God's provision every single day.
- Don't hoard gifts, parties, experiences and people. Don't hoard food either!
- Rest this Advent and Christmas rather than being devoured by the wilderness of Christmas
These three paradigms shape who we can navigate any wilderness and any time in life. Believing that God is indeed good and will not withhold from us, the children of today is core. We trust God at his word. And this sense of trust allows us to loosen our grip and our energy to do more; work harder and whip the wind up around us to give the appearance that we are the ones making all this happen.We are provided for in life by a God who loves us. This second realization allows us to let life be and take off the urgency that we often feel that we are the ones who have to produce and that life is up to us. This is really a form of atheism. It is at best a form of deism that says, “There may be a God up there somewhere. I don’t know. So I’ll live my life as if there really isn’t a God—and live like everything is up to me.The third foundation truth given to the Children of Israel in their own wilderness, is what I believe to be the core truth,so needed today. We, like they need rest. We need a time of ceasing every six days to be--- and not to do. We are not to gather. We are not to hoard. We are not to produce. We are simply to rest.At the core of Sabbath is the submission to a greater design to life that we see today with all of the striving, hurry and scurry. We rest. We live in the realization that we have enough—enough for THIS day and that God has indeed provided what we have. We celebrate that life is not up to us—that God has given us a gift of a sustainable rhythm where we can work but we also can recover.In this rhythm, we work and move through wilderness….and we celebrate the light of God’s blessings. We enjoy the fruit of our work---we see our own weekly harvest. We feast in a way that requires no work—no striving.Many years later, a person gave even more insight about the temptation to work obsessively and to hoard all we make. It is written, “Better one handful with tranquility than two handfuls with toil and chasing after the wind” (Ecc. 4:6).The real question here is what is enough and what is really “Better”.This is the question for Sabbath. This is the question over coffee with a friend or over dinner with your family. This is the question of our soul and it has been asked for a very long time and answered in many, many different ways.How will you answer these questions?Would time---giving an "experience" be a BETTER gift to someone that more stuff?What does the person you want to gift at Christmas really need as oppose to really want?How could you give a Sabbath to someone you love? What might that look like?