Deuteronomy 1:3 “Moses proclaimed to the Israelites all that the Lord had commanded concerning them” (NIV).

Observation: Forty years of wandering in the desert had ended, and Moses was proclaiming God’s precepts to the Israelites. Key enemies had been defeated, and it was nearly time for the nation to cross the Jordan River into Canaan, the Promised Land. First, though, Moses recounted key milestones they had passed in arriving at this historic day.

Application: Forty years in the desert! Imagine the anticipation of the people. Forty years of wandering around the edges of God’s best, and now the invitation to enter into His perfect place is at hand. Imagine the eagerness of the people to get on with it, to cross the river and lay claim to that which their fathers had forfeited through their lack of faith and resulting disobedience.

But first, they had to endure a very long speech from a very old, though revered, leader, a speech that would recount key events from their entire forty-year sojourn. Imagine their frustration and impatience as they listened to what must have seemed an ill-timed and interminably long history lesson given by the oldest Hebrew any of them had ever laid eyes on. And yet, they apparently listened. They knew why they had endured a forty-year discipline. They understood why they had for forty long years lived in nomads’ tents unable to plant crops, lay out a town square or establish cemeteries for their dead. As the clock ticked off passing years, one year for every day the fearful spies had scouted the land, they remembered.

What would it be like if I could know when my own desert experiences would end? “You will struggle this long, then release will come.” Like the prisoner whose sentence has an ending point, so must the Israelites have anticipated this day. I, though, am without such certainty. I long to know. I cry, “When will this end?” Time spent on calloused knees seems interminable as I wait for His answer. I yearn to see His hand holding keys to bring release and breakthrough, yet the slow clock ticks. But beloved, the clock need not govern my heart if I will but shift my focus from His hand to His face. By gazing into the smiling face of my loving God, I am able to enjoy His daily manna, abound and thrive in the fullness of His presence, not merely persevere at the edges of His best. To be content with His intimate bridal dance in the here and now changes, literally, everything.

Prayer: Lord Jesus, I confess I grow impatient and weary in the journey when my focus is on the end of exile. Cause me today to simply enjoy Your sweet embrace; I choose to put down my wearying load so I can fall fully into Your loving arms.