"But you are a forgiving God, gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love... Because of your great compassion you did not abandon them in the desert. By day the pillar of cloud did not cease to guide them on their path, nor the pillar of fire by night to shine on the way they were to take. You gave them your good Spirit to instruct them. You did not withhold your manna from their mouths, and you gave them water for their thirst." ~ Nehemiah 9: 17, 19-20
When I think about the 40 years that the Hebrew people wandered in the desert, I begin to realize just how patient God really is.
For the last few days we have been house-sitting three children (one is a grown teen, so I need to be careful in my labels!) It's been nearly ten years since I have been responsible for making sure kids make it to school on time, chores get completed, meals are prepared at a descent time, and showers, homework, and bed coincide in a peaceful manner. I have forgotten some of the issues that come with three children all trying to take care of things, while peacefully doing it together.
The experience has been great, but it sure has brought back some memories, and it has caused me to look at those who God cared for in a different way.
Oh, I KNOW God is a loving God. Let's face it, how many of us could listen to the same complaints for four decades! Can you imagine?
"What! Manna A G A I N?" (Insert massive eye roll from a few hundred people.)
"C'mon, how about some fresh water?"
"Are we still going there? How much longer?"
I think we all get the point. As a child, I remember my dad saying those now, notorious words, "Don't make me pull this car over!"
What an amazing God we have. A pillar of fire by night. Talk about an incredible night light!
I have to wonder if God didn't enjoy fashioning images out of the clouds during the day. I remember laying on my back and staring at the sky, imaging clouds to look like different animals.
God has not changed. While our wilderness experience may be different, and we may feel like we are alone sometimes, rather than entire civilization, God is still patient and loving. When we struggle time and time again to change, or to make a new start for ourselves, God is there, patiently loving us through whatever we are encountering.
Hope that your day is surrounded by the love of God. Stay in God's grip!
G. Todd Williams (c) 2017
God, in the wilderness You heard the sound of my voice calling, and You were there for me. How wonderful it is to know that You love me so completely! Thank You for loving me so unconditionally. Amen.
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Rev. G. Todd Williams lives in the Houston metro area and is a Hospice Chaplain at Essential Hospice, Webster, Texas, and is an ordained Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) pastor.