Celebrating Desert Wanderings

I don’t do very well with in-between times. I don’t like waiting, especially after sensing God’s leading in a certain direction. It doesn’t make sense to me why sometimes God doesn’t speed up the process. His timing is, so often, not mine.

I have been reading through the book of Exodus with my children this year. We’ve studied the miraculous saving of the baby Moses, his own exile to the desert, his encounter with the Great I Am, his return to Egypt and then we read about the plagues, the Passover and Israel’s final departure from Egypt.

But we realized that God doesn’t lead his people straight to the Promised Land. As if reading this for the first time, I stumbled out loud over Exodus 13:17-18.

 When Pharaoh let the people go, God did not lead them on the road through the Philistine country, for that was shorter. For God said, “If they face war, they might change their minds and return to Egypt.” So God led the people around by the desert road toward the Red Sea.

God leads his people to the desert because they weren’t yet ready for war. They had a lot to learn before they marched around the walls of Jericho with Joshua some forty years later. They needed to understand the nature of this God who led them with a pillar of cloud by day and fire by night. They needed to trust in God’s provision of food and water for them daily. And they needed to receive his law in order to know the holiness of God and just what he required of his people.

During this time in the desert the Israelites did not settle down in order to live there permanently, but lived in tents, or booths. It was a time of in-betweens where God’s people were already delivered (from Egypt) but not yet living where God intended them to (The Promised Land of Israel).

One of the commands given to Moses by God (yes there were more commands than just ten) was to celebrate a yearly feast to the LORD called the Feast of Booths, which celebrated the LORD’s provision for and presence among the Israelites during their desert wanderings. (See Leviticus 23)

Starting on the fifteenth day of the Jewish month of Tishri, many Jews and some Christians will celebrate the Feast of Sukkot, or Booths. This is the final festival in the seventh month of Tishri, preceded by the Feast of Trumpets and the solemn Day of Atonement. Sukkot is a joyful time, celebrating the autumn harvest of grapes, figs and olives in Israel and commemorating Israel’s sojourn in the wilderness for forty years. There are differing opinions on when this feast begins, but many will begin their celebration on sundown of September 27 by constructing sukkah, or tabernacles, to remember how the LORD provided for the Israelites during their wandering in the desert.

I am intrigued by the Jewish Festivals, but especially by the Fall Festivals. Jesus, through his death, resurrection and the giving of the Holy Spirit, has already fulfilled the Spring Festivals. The Fall Festivals of Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur and Sukkot look forward to the things that have not yet been fulfilled through Jesus Messiah. We look forward to the return of Christ and to his setting up of his kingdom on this earth. We look forward to his conquering of our enemies and doing away, once and for all, of the curse of sin and death. We look forward to his actual, physical presence! I believe that this Feast of Sukkot looks forward to the time when we will be forever with the LORD.

I want to learn about this feast and try to celebrate it as best as I can, not because I am under compulsion to do so, for I am not bound to the Law as those who were under the Old Covenant. No, I want to celebrate because I want to look forward to the day when we will feast with Jesus and remember his faithfulness to us during our own desert wanderings on this earth. Our own time of already but not yet. For now we see as in a mirror and are looking forward to that time when we shall see face to face!

“Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” Revelation 21:3-4

 

Waiting for the Harvest

One week before school started we put our house on the market. There were a few reasons we waited for this unusual time to try to sell our house. We had to wait for our foster daughter to go home before we could get ready to move. We also had to wait on God to impress upon us just when we were to move our family. We have wanted for some time now to move to the country, but we needed to know that it was God’s timing and His plan. Exactly one week before our house was officially on the market, Jason finally told me that he had heard from God and that now was the time to go.

This last month has been a hurricane of activity and work as we have painted and packed and fixed up our house to sell. Three days after it had been listed, we had a contract and we were looking to close on September 22. It all seemed like God was moving and things were going so smoothly.

Until the day we drove out to Madisonville to look at a property we were interested in purchasing. On the way there, we got the call that our buyers were backing out of the contract.

Jason had to pull over on the side of the road as we decided whether or not to go ahead and look at this land, even though we couldn’t put an offer on it anymore. We were shocked and disappointed, but decided that since we had come this far, we should at least see the property, so we continued.

And fell in love.

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It’s been two weeks since our house has been on the market again and those two weeks feel like an eternity. We are in the waiting again and every time, no matter how many times God has proven Himself faithful, it is unbearable to wait on Him.
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The other day I was hungry. Being at the tail end of the shopping week, there was hardly anything to eat in the house. Well, hardly anything that this paleo mom could eat anyways, so I found myself in the garden desperate for something to fill the void. The remaining figs weren’t ready yet, the tomatoes were green, there was okra galore, but I was getting tired of okra. What I really wanted was for the three gigantic cantaloupes to fall off the vine. Hadn’t I been waiting all summer for them? One of them was yellow and heavy, but the vine still clung to the fruit with a death grip that meant it just wasn’t quite ready yet. But I didn’t care. I reached out and wrestled the fruit from the vine, struggling and twisting it until it tore free. I brought it close to my face and inhaled, but it wasn’t sweet. I smelled earth, but not the fruity aroma it was supposed to have. I took it inside, washed it off and brought it to the cutting board. I cut into it and the fruit was the right color, a deep orange, but it was hard to slice and even cutting it produced no aroma whatsoever. I knew I had done this fruit wrong, but I was hungry and it was too late now. I made the best of it, sliced the rest of it up and ate a bowl of no-taste cantaloupe.

It filled my belly, but there was no delight in eating it. 
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I received an email from our realtor, the same one who had shown us the property in Madisonville. He had been responding to an email I had sent him, asking him to pray for us in this process of waiting on the Lord once again. He encouraged us that he and his wife were praying for us and he proclaimed that we could trust our Daddy, that in His KAIROS timing, He would make a way for us to sell our home and purchase what He had for us.

Kairos is the Greek word meaning, “fitting season, opportunity, time.” (Strongs Concordance) It is used many times in Scripture to tell of the time of the harvest.

Do I believe that His timing is kairos? Do I trust Him?

Most days it doesn’t seem like it as I fret about the inconvenience of keeping the house in pristine, show-ready condition. When I read about the financial crisis about to hit our nation and despair that the house will never sell. When I start to doubt that maybe we missed His voice or didn’t do everything we were supposed to do.

But then, I return in surrender to the One who has proven again and again His faithfulness to me. The One I know I can trust. The One who speaks to the depths of my being that He longs to give me the desires of my heart. Me!

I can choose to trust that His timing is nothing short of perfect.

I decided to wait to let the cantaloupe actually fall off the vine before I took matters into my own impatient hands again.  When I did that, I discovered that waiting until a fruit is ripe and in season is the best way to enjoy it.

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It smelled divine and tasted even better.