The Journey Home
by Rich Bregitzer
(St. Louis, MO)
Deuteronomy 31:1-3, 6-8
1 Then Moses went out and spoke these words to all Israel: 2 "I am now a hundred and twenty years old and I am no longer able to lead you. The LORD has said to me, 'You shall not cross the Jordan.' 3 The LORD your God himself will cross over ahead of you. He will destroy these nations before you, and you will take possession of their land. Joshua also will cross over ahead of you, as the LORD said.
6 Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you." 7 Then Moses summoned Joshua and said to him in the presence of all Israel, "Be strong and courageous, for you must go with this people into the land that the LORD swore to their forefathers to give them, and you must divide it among them as their inheritance. 8 The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged."
In today’s verse we find Moses and the children of Israel poised to enter into the Promised Land, but before they could do so they needed a miracle. What they needed was to have their enemies removed from this land that God had promised to them and they also needed a new leader to bring about their triumphant entry into the land because Moses was, at 120 years of age, no longer able to lead them.
What do you think it felt like to be one of the children of Israel at this point in time? For 40 years they had wandered in the desert, for 40 years they may have wondered when they would arrive and what it might be like when they did.
Have you ever felt that way? I remember when I was kid my parents told me we were going to Disney World. Let me tell you; when you’re an 8 year old boy Disney World seems like the promised land and the time between when they told me we were going and the time when we actually arrived in the Magic Kingdom seemed like at least 40 years to my impatient mind.
Then when I was in the military it seemed to take ages before I would be able to return to the civilian world. And to me the civilian world seemed like the promised land.
Home is a curious notion. For some of us home is where we were born and for others home is wherever you can hang your hat and for still others home is that place you long to get back to.
But for the children of Israel home was a yet undiscovered country because home for 40 years had been a path through the desert. And yet these people on this journey experienced the grace and mercy of God again and again as their enemies were thwarted, their thirst quenched, their sins forgiven and their hunger appeased by God in miraculous ways.
Sometimes on our journey between homes meaning the one we left and the one we are heading to we experience great fear and trepidation. I know when I left home as an 18 year old for the Air Force I was scared because I didn’t know what the future held.
Yet verse 6 tells us:
6 Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you."
To be strong means to be fortified spiritually so that you may endure whatever comes your way. And to be courageous means to apply your strength without fear in a faithful manner.
Sure this verse refers to the nations blocking the children of Israel from entering that Promised Land, but it can just as easily refer to whatever it is you are going through. From our aches and pains to brokenness in our relationships there is no problem to big or too great for God.
But someone might say “Rich you don't know what my time in the desert has been like...I've had an addiction for 10 years, I've been estranged from my family for 30 years, I've been battling disease for 20 years...”
The thing to remember is that we were never promised that the journey would be easy, but we are told that a heavenly destination awaits us and that we will have a Godly escort as we make our way.
So, we are encouraged to be strong and to be courageous and we are reminded that God is with us always...we do not make this journey alone, but God is present to guide us home.
So, no matter what you are going through today know that you are not alone, that you are loved, that you are precious in the eyes of God and that he has been with you, never leaving you nor forsaking you as you’ve made your own journey.
When it comes to the struggles in our own desert journeys it is imperative that we remember to put one foot in front of the other and that we recall the hope we have been given. Many people give up when the journey becomes difficult. They wallow in their suffering and stagnate in the desert.
That is why it is so important to be strong and to be courageous and to press on knowing that God goes with you. If you lose sight of God along the way then you will also lose sight of your way.
The key to the children of Egypt's success was their ability to press on toward their goal; the Promised Land. Undoubtedly the ability to take that next step and to continue the journey that lay before them came from the motivation and the inspiration and the knowledge that God was with them. Did they always acknowledge God's presence? No, and that is why it took them 40 years to make the journey.
Perhaps Psalm 46:1-3 should be our constant reminder when the pain of life becomes to much or when the reserves of our faith seem depleted. The Psalm reminds us that we do not have to go it alone that, in God, we have our perfect help. The scripture reads:
“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in times of trouble. Therefore we will not fear, even though the earth be removed and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea; though its waters roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with its swelling.”
If we can wrap our heads around that then we will trust that God is our peace for the journey. There is a Jamaican saying, 2 words: Cool runnings and it was made popular by the movie with the same name. Simply put it means: Peace be the journey.
I’d like to close by asking you to consider one more thing with regards to your notion of home because we talked a lot about earthly homes, but have you ever considered that, as God’s children, we all have come from the same home, that we all have come to be here as a result of something birthed in our true home; which is God’s heart.
Surely what was spoken to the prophet Jeremiah is also true for all of God’s children when he says:
Jeremiah 1:5 “"Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you. Before you were born, I set you apart for my holy purpose...”
See you are a dream of God...you are his handiwork and your first home is where he knew you. There is a somewhat popular statement that says “God doesn't make any junk.” I believe that sentiment is borrowed from the Psalmist in the 139 Psalm verses 13 and 14 where it says:
“For you formed my inward parts; you covered me in my mother's womb. I will praise you for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; marvelous are your works and that my soul knows very well.”
So we are a divine design. Even if someone tells you that you were an unplanned accident the truth is that you are here today and that God skillfully created you on purpose.
The journey that follows, your God ordained creation, is this life with its births and deaths and all the living that happens in between. What we find then though, and it’s the most beautiful thing, is that we do in fact get to that Promised Land and it’s so much more than all of the earthly expectations we ever had.
Because the home that is promised to us is one built by our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and it exists in that celestial city illuminated on the threshold of a brilliant and radiant forever after.
Jesus tells us a bit about it.
John 14:1-3 “1"Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in Goda; trust also in me. 2In my Father's house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. 3And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.”
So the home we left is the home we are all going back to and in the meantime God blesses us with a life rich with experiences, opportunities and most importantly people to love and to be loved by.
We have the hope of heaven; a home where the heart truly is. We have left our home at God's side for a grand adventure, for the journey that is life. What have you done with the time God has granted you? Have you been faithful? And what will you do with the time and the road that lies ahead of you? Will you take the next step and then the one after that and te one after that?
Paul addressed his stance on these very questions. He wrote the struggling Philippian church and encouraged them to continue on their journey of faith, to not give up and to follow his example when he said that while he was far from understanding all the mysteries of God that he would not let that stop him nor would he be hindered by a past that others may have had a hard time overcoming.
Paul writes in verses 3:12-14:
12Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. 13Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 14I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.
God is with you no matter what road you decide to travel down. Help is a prayer away. Wherever you go there God is.