In the middle of a grueling week of work, a friend of mine stopped by and asked, “How’s it going?”
“Things could be better,” I said. I hurt all over from hours of standing on my feet. My head throbbed from lack of sleep. And I was fighting a cold.
“Listen,” he said looking at me. “This is as good as it gets. Things don’t get any better.”
Most people would have thought my friend was way off-base. Negative. Cynical even.
For me, what he said was just what I needed to be reminded of.
Living in the wilderness is just that – journeying through a dry and thirsty land where there is no water, no oasis, and no rest.
Think the Israelites in their 40 years of desert wandering.
Even Jesus, when he was here in the flesh, lived his life in the wilderness.
He died in the wilderness, just like Abraham did, just like the first generation of Israelites did, just like you and me.
The wilderness is a pilgrimage, where we are not at rest. In fact, it’s a place of hardship and testing.
Wilderness and rest structures the life of the Church.
The First Coming of Jesus accomplished redemption by his death and resurrection.
His Second Coming brings in the Sabbath rest for all God’s people.
In between those two events, is the wilderness journey, in which we all pass through.
No one is exempt.
Not even Jesus.
He experienced the journey for us. He lived it perfectly for us. And that record is put to our account.
So then how are we to live our lives in the wilderness?
First, by not expecting it to be a life of comfort and rest. Just the opposite.
Second, it’s our time to do good works out of gratitude to God for saving us and giving us a future Sabbath rest that is as certain as God himself.
This is the time we tell others the good news of the gospel, where we love one another as the body of Christ, where preaching and teaching and training in righteousness is a daily and weekly habit.
Our happiness is not here.
It’s in a future rest in heaven with our God.