One of my favorite Bible stories for time of transition is the story of the Israelites in the wilderness. I have been reflecting on this story in recent weeks. This month marks the end of a year during which you have been in transition. I know that some of you are beginning to ask, “how long, O Lord, how long?” The thing about transition is that as the days pass anxiety begins to develop. There is that sense of not being here or there. And with that the questions: Will we ever get there? Are we headed in the right direction? Will we survive the journey? Isn’t there an easier, quicker way to get to the end of the journey?
These are all important questions. Important for the surface of what they ask, but maybe more important for what they reveal about a growing sense of anxiety.
Remember the story. Not too long into the journey the Israelites began to question, and grumble, and wonder if there wasn’t another way.
They did what we sometimes do, express the fears, and frustrations of uncertainty. For the Israelites the anxiety came out as questions about Moses’ leadership, and grumbling about yet another day of manna, and building a golden calf because maybe that would be an answer.
What about for us? How is the anxiety of the not yet there time being expressed? Wondering if this is the right church? Raised voices and emotions over issues that might ordinarily be easily resolved. Less excitement about volunteering, pledging financial support, offering time? Maybe just a general sense of discouragement? I’m hearing all of these.
But the Exodus story continues. It is not just a story about some folks on a journey which has become tedious, and tempers that are frayed, and hopes that feel thinner than they were when the journey began. It is a story about how God redeems, and restores, and guides, and is ever present, full of compassion and abiding in steadfast love. It is the God part of the story that makes it not a story about discouragement and waiting, but a story about God’s mercy and providence.
None of us know how or when the journey of this transition time will conclude with the joyful call of new pastoral leadership. But we do know this, God have not left this journey! It will end in promise and new life.
On the way the Israelites learned that God would not leave them. God journeyed every step of the way with them. And God continues to journey with us.
I guarantee we will get weary. I guarantee our patience will be tried. I guarantee we will wonder, How long, O Lord, how long. But it is my hope that we will take a breath, gather at the cross, join our weary voices in prayer and praise, and wait patiently to see what God is leading us to do and to be.
for your continued kindness to one another,
for your joy in the Lord’s presence in your midst, that you remain persistence in prayer,
that you not lose hope,
and that you center that hope on what Jesus has already done in this place knowing that you are being lead to new vision and direction.
God is on the journey by your side. God will not let you go.
Thank you all for continuing the journey!