Moses was a man who knew the wilderness. Movies have been made about certain portions of his life, but most of his 120 years were very difficult. He lived in a place of privilege and plenty until age 40, but all that changed in a moment. He killed a man. Suddenly, he had no place to turn and no one to belong to. So he fled to the wilderness and lived as a fugitive.
As we recall the story, we shouldn’t rush too quickly to the famous burning bush. God would call Moses to do the unthinkable; and Moses would experience the power and presence of God in extraordinary ways—in ways like no one else. He would even talk with God face to face, as one talks with a friend. But none of that would happen until Moses was 80 years old. Do you ever wonder what it was like for Moses in the wilderness those 40 years before all the extraordinary things began?
The word “wilderness” describes much of what we experience in life. We feel dry, discouraged, defeated. Doubts come, temptation is unrelenting, and we are dogged by that inner voice that repeats our failures. We feel tired, alone, unloved, and powerless. But does that mean that God is done with us, that he is not with us, or that he has run out of grace?
Looking back on the life of Moses, we can see that 40 years of wilderness living was not a lapse in God’s guidance or grace; it was preparation for the next history-making 40 years of wilderness leadership. Someday, you will be able to look back on your own wilderness times and see that God never left you, his love and grace and faithfulness never wavered, and he caused it all to work for good in the end.
If today is a wilderness for you, don’t let it convince you that God is distant or done with you. Even Jesus had to endure the wilderness—and the cross. Turn your eyes there. It’s only in looking back at his darkest of hours that we can see hope and a future unthinkable. The longer you gaze at the cross, the more I think you’ll see a burning bush for your own wilderness.