On one of our cross-country road trips, we ended up on a red dirt road in nowhere Arizona without a sign in sight. Why would there be a road sign when what we were driving on barely qualified as a road?
Tables in the Wilderness
Our children were young. It was long before GPS or cell-phones. As we drove slowly on this very rocky road, hoping to see some sign of civilization my mind was going through possibilities. Since our trip was taking us from South Florida to Washington State we’d taken a large cooler to economize on snacks and stops. The thing that kept me from panic mode was the thought that if we had to spend the night in our minivan in this deserted place we would have water. If we had water, we’d be okay.
Most of us have been on this kind of road in a figurative sense. Life brings unexpected detours. The signposts seem to have disappeared. It’s a dry and lonely place. On the outside, things appear normal. We keep showing up and going through the motions while inside we’re blinking back tears and looking for a flicker of hope. This isn’t where we want to be. We’re screaming for a way out and out now!
He prepares a table for me in the midst of the wilderness.
I’d written these words down without a reference. I thought it was a Message paraphrase from the Psalms but all my searching with BibleGateway and Google yielded nothing from the Bible. It could easily be a reference to God’s provision to the Israelites when they were in the desert. Faced with a long, hard journey, with nothing but the unknown, God met their needs. He met them in the wilderness with food, a table right there in the midst of the wilderness.
Nothing feels as if it’s enough when you’re hurting. You ask for prayers and do your best to believe in its power but how long, o Lord, how long must I plead with you? Don’t you hear me? Are you listening? We know the aches of the heart. We know the soft places where hard words have struck.
In the midst of this wilderness, He prepares a table. A table of friends….a table of grace. It’s not the answer we want but somewhere we have to trust He is giving us what we need today. Tomorrow he will provide for us again. And the next day and the next. It often won’t feel like enough but don’t give up hope. Gather up your friends, keep moving forward and know that God cares.
On that Arizona road, the only way out was to keep driving. We’d gone too far to turn back. We had to keep going forward so we continued on this rocky road with hope it would lead us out of the wilderness and back to life. We made it because we weren’t alone. Even in silence, our hope was greater when shared together.