Beyond the Wilderness-
There is a powerful sentence in the story of Moses and the “Burning Bush.” Moses, “Led his flock beyond the wilderness…” It is a little sentence buried within one of the most powerful stories in the Bible. Moses cannot see God until he leads the sheep “Beyond the wilderness.”
Exodus 3 Moses was keeping the flock of his father-in-law Jethro, the priest of Midian; he led his flock beyond the wilderness, and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. 2 There the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a flame of fire out of a bush; he looked, and the bush was blazing, yet it was not consumed. 3
In like manner, you and I have a difficult time seeing God if we are stuck in the “Wilderness.” We are the sheep and God is our shepherd. The “Wilderness” represents anything that is unsustainable, frightening, lonely, barren and dangerous. In a similar way, there are moments in our lives when we have a difficult time seeing God when our vision is clouded with confusion, fear and physical suffering.
Sometimes the “Wilderness” can be beautiful. As a youth leader for a junior high school youth ministry, I think the year was the summer of 1971, I drove a van full of excited youth from Detroit to Pinery Park, in Ontario, Canada. The drive from Detroit was about an hour and a half to the park entrance. I had heard about Pinery Park as a potential location for a youth ministry camping excursion and wanted to see it for myself and to watch the reaction of the children as we checked the park out. Once we entered the park, we drove on a winding road for about thirty minutes. The road was narrow with only two lanes. The trees were tall and straight. Little animals scurried through the bush. Because the trees were so thick and tall, the road was full of long shadows with peeks of light. After about 30 minutes of winding through the park a sign indicated that the beach was near. I turned off the road and all of a suddenly the van was bathed in the light of sun unfettered by the block of tall trees. We found ourselves on an elevated path and then we saw the most beautiful sight – sun kissed, Lake Huron was spread before us with sand dunes beside us. The children burst into shouts of joy and I knew we were in the right place. We could not see the beauty of the Lake without first going through the virtual wilderness of a long ride on a winding road.
My encouragement to those who are reading this is simple: ask the Lord to be your shepherd. Trust the Lord to lead you “through the wilderness” so you can taste and see the blessings that the Lord has prepared for you.
Questions for Reflection:
- What can we learn from Moses leading the sheep beyond the wilderness?
- What is a modern similarity of being in the wilderness?
- How are humans like the sheep Moses is leading?
- How is Moses like God with the sheep?
Prayer: Lord, lead me from the wilderness. I must confess that sometimes the way is desolate and the way can be dark. Lord, I need your guidance. Lord, I need your direction. I trust you. I need you. You feed me in my hunger. In my blindness, you open my eyes. Bless me now and lead me to the promised land. Through Jesus Christ my Lord and Savior I pray. Amen.
Written by Rev. Dr. Nicholas Hood III
Photos by Rev. Dr. Nicholas Hood III – the men and women in these photos were in my junior high youth ministry at the Plymouth United Church of Christ 43 years ago who drove with me to Pinery Park in Ontario, Canada
Additional Prayers Photos and Meditations from Rev. Dr. Nicholas Hood III at https://nicholashoodiiiministries.wordpress.com/
 The Holy Bible: New Revised Standard Version. (1989). (Ex 3:1–3). Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers.