“The Lord is my shepherd; … He leads me beside the still waters” (Psalm 23: 1-2).
“Then it came to pass, when Pharaoh had let the people go, that God did not lead them by way of the land of the Philistines, although that was near; … God led the people around by way of the wilderness of the Red Sea” (Exodus 13:17-18).
Sometimes it is hard to accept that You, the Shepherd Who leads me beside still waters, also leads me into the wilderness. Into the wilderness, Abba? Dryness. Scarcity. Discomfort. Heat. The wilderness, Abba? You have led me here? Quiet waters I can understand. Refreshing. Life giving. Cleansing. But the wilderness? Why? What good can come from a sojourn in such a place?
Hosea 2:14 seems to hold an answer.
“Therefore, behold, I will allure her,
Will bring her into the wilderness,
And speak comfort to her.”
Oh. This leading is not for punishment. It is not about You treating me as my sins deserve. Comfort. Comfort and wilderness do not seem to go together but then You are God and sovereign, free from the limitations that are part of my humanity. You can provide what I need anywhere You choose.
Deep breath. Okay, Abba. You will be with me every step of the way? Holding my hand even when I do not feel you near? Picking me up when I stumble? You will not just give me directions to navigate this place. You will be my personal, ever present guide. David, king, psalmist, forgiven-man-after-Your-own heart, testified, “Even when I go through the darkest valley, I fear no danger, for You are with me; Your rod and staff – they comfort me.” (Psalm 23:4). You will do no less for me than You did for David.