This is part 2 in our Breathe series, wandering in the in-between of promise and actualization. For Part 1 click HERE.
I wonder what it felt like. Wandering the sands of the arabian peninsula week after week, eating weird cracker-things every morning and talking incessantly about this promise. I wonder—did the big moment take them by surprise?
They crest the hillside and excitement spreads:
“Yes, that over there is THE promised land.”
“No, I’m not kidding. THAT over there is our promise.”
“Yes, serious, Over there!”
And just like that, two years into this nomad thing and they were standing just across the river from their land flowing with milk and honey. The promise spoken to their ancestors all those years ago was actually, really, right there. A hope longed for now realized. An unseen story handed down four generations now tangible to all 5 senses. The very passion that burned in their guts and kept them from loosing their minds during oppressive slavery and treacherous travels—that dream. There it was. Right. Over. There.
Soak that hillside in.
And then turn and walk away.
…”But as for you, turn around and set out toward the desert along the route to the Red Sea.” Deut. 1:40
We can read Moses’ thoughts on the matter. But imagine the mom holding her children’s hands as they turn and walk away from the technicolor version of their nightly bedtime story. The air barely able to leave her lungs, let alone the words to explain it to her confused son.
Have you been there? That place of unknown; where your deepest fears mix with your biggest questions and the only thing you can do is let go?
I imagine that walk became silent beyond the slow shuffle of dusty feet. And as time would tell, (another 38 years worth of time) there was more for them to find in the wilderness. Their faith needed deeper roots. The Israelites had lost sight of who they were and whose they were. Moses says back in verse 32 of chapter 1: “In spite of this (those early lessons in the wilderness) you did not trust in the Lord, who went ahead of you on your journey, in fire by night and in a cloud by day, to search out places for you to camp and to show you the way you should go.” You did not trust.
So they are asked to let go of their promise and go back to deal with the fear. It says in the first verse of chapter 2 that they made their way back around the hill country of Seir—“Seir” comes from the root word sa’ar which means afraid. Their lack of trust was rooted in fear, so God took them back to the wilderness to deal with it. There’s treasure in the wilderness, like a vast storehouse of faith fertilizer.
Promises are scary. Dreams are scary. Goals… are frightening. Because they are bigger than you. As they should be. As you take steps in this journey towards those promises, take note of all the places where God was ahead of you pointing out where to go. Take note about how God knew where to camp and remember all the places he provided manna, quail, and poured fresh water from rocks for you. Pay attention.
Because the same God who walked with you through the wilderness is going to be there in the Promised land too.
And that’s the point, as you dispel fear, faith rises up.
“The Lord your God has blessed you in all the work of your hands. He has watched over your journey through through this vast wilderness. These forty years the Lord your God has been with you, and you have not lacked anything.” Deut. 2:7