And a thousand into the wilderness.
The road leading home is the road of obedience. Unless your course is fixed, you are powerless before a thousand options, regardless of how “empowered” you may feel.
This reference to the wilderness, tho I am not sure it was CS Lewis’ meaning in his original statement, has a curious parallel to the children of Israel’s trek, a trek we are all on, in a manner of speaking. Our individual journeys will fill up a lifetime, but will it be a lifetime of wandering here and there, filled with false hopes & failing motivations, distractions, misleadings and unfulfilled promise? The choice was theirs, and it is ours, as well.
We misconceive the journey that leads us home, oftentimes, I think, expecting it to be a free of resistance. In fact, on this road, the only thing greater than the resistance we face is the grace we walk in.
The promises of God, parallel to the “promised land”, belong to the obedient.
Untold numbers – more than a million – left Egypt, bound for the promised land, but two from that generation actually crossed Jordan, and neither of them was the initial primary leader. We may need to let that sink in a little. (Gulp). The risk of us falling short is not insignificant. First Corinthians Chapter Ten should be a sobering shot of clarity for us, as we are taking it all in.
Christian culture in the US, and to the places it has been exported, has perpetuated a lie, perhaps unwittingly. We, as the Pharisees before us, go half way round the world to make one convert. Then we pack our bags, board our planes, write our newsletters, and collect our donations. I am pretty sure this was not our Commander’s intent. How has His command come to mean this? When this is weighed in the balance, how will it be reconciled?
Perhaps we don’t teach obedience to those we lead to Christ for a reason invisible to us? We can only teach obedience to the point that we are, ourselves, obedient. The first several verses of Philippians Chapter Two come to mind, as our Commander, Jesus Christ the righteous, modeled obedience in its complete expression. Almost anything is easier and more convenient than that, but, can we really improve on the example He has given us?
I used to think that escaping culture was a binary affair, like an on-off switch. You either escaped the culture that held your forbears captive or you didn’t. But I have come to consider this differently in recent times. We escape culture by degrees. The grip of the bondage that held those who came before us is either strengthened or weakened by our choices, at the individual level, and what we do with this is passed on to our kids, in a modified form. For some of us, in offering ourselves to the Lord more and more fully, we will change the entire trajectory of our family’s history. For some, this territory will be given back by succeeding generations. For some, it will establish a foundation that others will build on, with eternal materials! The choices we make, model and demonstrate by living out are not insignificant, and have generational (not to mention eternal) consequences.
We have been ransomed from the empty life (and all of us inherit this, to a degree) that was passed down to us by our forbears. How have we been ransomed? By the blood of Jesus.
1Peter 1:18 For you know that God paid a ransom to save you from the empty life you inherited from your ancestors. And it was not paid with mere gold or silver, which lose their value. 19It was the precious blood of Christ, the sinless, spotless Lamb of God. 20God chose him as your ransom long before the world began, but now in these last days he has been revealed for your sake. (click here for context)
What a big ransom to pay for indifference on the part of the beneficiaries.
We can be distracted from the abundant life to which we are called, and which is well within the reach of faith, by a nagging notion that we will somehow be abandoned, destitute. This deception can prompt us to believe that the most important thing in life is provision, resources, money…. This is the enemy’s work. I am reminded of something a fellow believer said, “You can have a lot to live on, without a lot to live for…”. Let’s consider that quote a paraphrase, but you get the point. What we have to live on (or its absence) doesn’t give us something to live for, or meaning to the life that we have been given. That meaning is contained inside the promise of Jesus Christ, and the ransom He paid, for us to walk in a fulness of life, just like He showed us when He was here on Earth. He lived this way as an invitation for us to join Him and live likewise!
Matt 6:22. “Your eye is like a lamp that provides light for your body. When your eye is healthy, your whole body is filled with light. 23But when your eye is unhealthy, your whole body is filled with darkness. And if the light you think you have is actually darkness, how deep that darkness is! 24“No one can serve two masters. For you will hate one and love the other; you will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and be enslaved to money. 25“That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life—whether you have enough food and drink, or enough clothes to wear. Isn’t life more than food, and your body more than clothing? 26Look at the birds. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren’t you far more valuable to him than they are? 27Can all your worries add a single moment to your life?” (see context here)
These preoccupations can distract, trifle, and stymy us, and change the target of our lives. Whatever gets your attention, has gotten you, right?
I want to encourage you, today, to look away from all those things that distract, from every weight that slows you down, and look (once again) to Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy set before Him, endured the cross, despising the shame, and is now set down at the right hand of God. May the eyes of our hearts be opened, and the ears of our hearts, hear clearly the call that is going out to us, today.