by Jen Aldrich
April 6, 2022
On Sunday, we talked about The Wins in the Wilderness and started our 3-day fast. We looked at Jesus’ story of 40 days of fasting and how He responded when the temper came. 1) He saw clearly what was happening 2) He stood his ground 3) He spoke to it (simply) with the truth He hung onto like a rock in His pocket. He pulled out scripture to address each temptation — but let’s not gloss past the first thing that came at him: “IF you are the son of God…” An attack on His identity.
In the story of the Israelites coming out of Egypt only to find themselves wandering in the wilderness for 40 years, there is also something to be said about identity.
Before they were freed by Pharaoh they were what…? Slaves. “We are slaves.” That was their identity and all that generation had ever known. And they needed to walk out of it.
So they did.
They walked and walked and walked for 40 years. In that time God fed them with manna… each day… building a relationship of trust, not independent self-reliance, but leaning in every day for the provision. Looking for that cloud by day and fire by night to follow. Day after day trusting those things will be there. That kind of desperate, visceral need – and knowing where you’re going to go to get that need met – is a powerful experience.
By the time they arrived in a land flowing with milk and honey, they’d learned (hopefully!) that GOD is their provider – not the milk and honey that they would find, because that could be gone in a moment. But it’s coming to a place of knowing that God could feed them with manna and quail, or milk and honey, or gold and silver — Regardless of HOW God provides, they’ve tasted and seen that God Will provide. And that trust has been built in them in a deep, visceral way; in the simplest and most basic of needs – food. And maybe that’s why fasting from food is so powerful, it’s a very basic, visceral, simple need that we each have, every day, where we get to remember our true dependence is on God to see us through the moments of hunger and brain fog and bad breath. We temporarily remove the things we turn to for comfort or distraction, and really press in for the deeper truths. The ones that need to be written on our hearts.
The Israelites didn’t get there easily. They wrestled at times with “Why can’t we just go back to Egypt, at least we knew who we were there and what we had.” The journey to our fullest, freest identity is not a walk in the park, but the wilderness is a time to engage with the struggle, find the wins, and get our upgrade.