Today was Easter. I have had so much going on personally that the holidays this year have been less than focused. I’m sure we have all experienced holidays in that manner. We go through the motions, but true meanings are hard to grasp. Time with family is difficult. You don’t want to ruin everyone’s good time, so you smile and hold it all together while your insides are a broken mess. This past holiday season was the most difficult time of my life. I was trying to keep up traditions at Christmas, but festivities were not at the top of my list. We did a few of the essentials, but still, I felt I was fasting at the feast. Today I was bothered that Easter was coming and going much the same way. I went through the motions but I’ve been so wrapped up in worries that it wasn’t personal at all. Much like the Israelites in the desert, my spirit has been wandering.
I have been studying in Exodus for two years now. The Exit. The deliverance. The first Passover. The final miracle that released the captives. Last year God kept showing me truths from the story and how they applied to my life. He has been telling me that He is my deliverer and He will deliver me. Then this year in my CBS we “happened” to do the study “Red Sea to the Jordan River”. We have studied lots and lots of wandering. Grumbling. Complaining. We read the account and marvel at how they could complain. God provided for them on every side. He was their rear guard. He dwelt among them. And yet they uttered complaints and grumbled. They tested God ten times. They even said, “We might as well have stayed in Egypt, if we were just going to die out here in the desert.” Wow. That is rough. God bends over backward with circus act after circus act of plagues to deliver them, and when the going gets tough? They sit in the wilderness like spoiled children and complain that maybe they didn’t want to be lead out. Yikes. Honestly, it is so easy to pass judgement when looking in and knowing the whole story. But until you’ve truly wandered and “wondered” what is going on, you really can’t know how difficult the journey is. The parallels to my life are uncanny. I have wandered, wondered, and complained. Yes, even after the miracles.
Someone in my Bible study pointed out how “God lead them out and God lead them in.” And in between? 40 years of wandering. The interim wanderings were hard. It took a series of no small miracles to get the Israelites out of Egypt and even bigger miracles to get the Egypt out of the Israelites. They needed healing. They needed to understand how to live as free people. They needed that time to learn. But they didn’t comprehend this at all. I think it frustrated them. I know firsthand how uncomfortable and scary wandering can be. In Egypt, they could see their captors. However, in the dessert, their battle was against their own minds and the bondage they had accepted as day to day, normalcy for 400 years. Which do you think was the bigger battle? God was happy to lead His people out and I’m sure He was excited to give them the Promised Land. But they had to be prepared. They were going to be a nation of their own. They had to learn to live free.
Tonight I have been thinking: Easter and Passover are essentially the same holiday. I’m not Jewish. I don’t know anyone Jewish (except Jesus!) but I know the Jewish feasts and festivals simply because I study the Old Testament. It is my adopted heritage. It is no coincidence that the Jewish feasts directly correlate to the Gospel. Jesus was the Passover lamb. He bought our freedom; our ticket out of captivity. He died on the cross as an atoning sacrifice and it is also not a coincidence that it was just as the High Priest blew the shofar at the temple: the signal to kill the Passover lambs in commemoration of the first Passover. They celebrated the feast that time not knowing that the true lamb had been killed. It marked the beginning of the New Covenant. Because this time, the lamb rose from the dead. And once again, the lamb set the captives free.
Do we know it? Do we live it? Or do we wander in the desert? Has the Passover lamb set you free? Or are you still wandering year after year, suffering from the bondage in your mind that doesn’t let you enter rest. Do you feel you have been “lead out” but not yet “lead in”? It’s not fun. It wasn’t fun for the Israelites. And when they realized they weren’t able to quite yet live free, they said they might as well still be in Egypt. I said the same thing today. I was so frustrated to find myself away from a bad situation but still held captive by fear and insecurity. I asked God, “If you’re not going to deliver me all the way, why did you deliver me at all?” Ugh. I can’t believe I said it but I did. I see myself now, head hung low, taking my place among the congregation. Fearing God’s wrath. Moses interceded for them and by God’s grace, Jesus intercedes for us. But not just intercedes, he died for us. This is how the Passover lamb becomes a personal atonement. By his blood not just over our door but over our hearts, we are able to renew our minds and see the desert with eyes of faith instead of sight. He is freeing us “all the way” by showing us He has freed us all the way. It is done. It’s just that the battleground has changed from external to internal. Our minds have been held captive, and He loves us too much to let them stay that way. He wants us to enjoy the Promised Land. He wants to free us from bondage in every aspect. Outside and inside. He wants us to live truly free. Mind, body, spirit. He didn’t die to just release us from captivity. He died to give us life abundantly. If we understood this we wouldn’t complain. If we understood, we would arrive.
Psalm 56:8 David says to God, “You have kept track of my wanderings, and put my tears in your bottle. Are they not in your book?” God does see. He keeps track. He is actually leading—if you let Him. And the interim wanderings? Well, they were for the Israelites benefit. They wandered until their minds were transformed and ready to live as a free people. It took a long time. 40 years. And the older generation never could grasp it. They died in the wilderness. The Israelites didn’t have to wander for so long and neither do we… This is the importance of Easter and why it is the culmination of the Christian faith. Jesus made a way to enter into rest, not just when we get to heaven but RIGHT NOW. As we live. His death covered our sins, and his resurrection gave us life and dominion—freedom from living in bondage. The effects of sin no longer rule our minds. He has set us free. We don’t have to wander. Easter reminds us that God never does anything half way. He always does more than you can think or imagine. And He does it well. He not only found a way to conquer death, but to give life at a level none had dared dream. Don’t buy the lie that says you are still wandering. He has conquered death. He is seated at the right hand of God. God has put all things under his feet and do you know where you sit? Right beside him. (Ephesians 1) And He has given you dominion as well. (Psalm 8:6) Fear has no place in your life. Bondage no longer enslaves you on any level.
Accepting it and living it is a process. It is made more difficult by negative situations we face. Most people just accept that “this is life” and look forward to heaven. That’s not living life abundantly. That’s not taking advantage of the gift that was bought with the blood of the Lamb. We must learn to live with a new mindset—it is no small endeavor. God gives us the blueprint: Stop trying to map out your own way; trust your Father to get you there. In all aspects of your life look to Him and He will make your path straight. No more wandering. Your mind will be free when you focus on Him. It’s your shortcut route. Once you realize you can let go of that bondage and grasp His finished work on the cross, it’s like taking off the blindfold. You open your eyes, look around, and realize you are already standing in the Promised Land. You have crossed the Jordan without even realizing it because your feet never got wet. Jesus led you in. He took that first step that stopped the water’s flow. (Joshua 3) That is the work of the cross. That is the reason for celebrating the Resurrection. You walk across on dry land. You are done wandering. Sit down with Him and rest. You are free.