Do you remember going on road trips before GPS?
I remember pulling out my Thomas Bros. map book and plotting my course. I would try to guess where good places to stop would be based on how bold the name of the town was printed. Too bold and it wouldn’t be a quick off and, on the highway, too faint and they might not have what I wanted. It was always guesswork though.
I would ask others who had traveled that way before, but they often didn’t remember the details. Sure, there was a Carl’s Jr. somewhere along there, but they were never quite sure which exit.
Today, we travel into the unknown. No one has been down this road. No one can really tell us where to stop, when it’s truly safe or even what that means.
Like Abraham and his journey, from here to there, we find we just have to keep going. Our hope is in the promise that God is with us and is already on the other side.
Along his journey, God promised Abraham a son. His wife was as barren as the desert. They were old. It was impossible. But God promised a future. Their future and their hope were in that promise, that promise that God asked to be sacrificed one day.
Can we have hope, and be promoters of hope, even when we are asked to sacrifice the very things that we have always believed are the symbols of that hope and our future?
The people in exile held onto the promise because they had the old stories of faithfulness in the desert. Abraham walked alone (relatively); the Israelites formed a community in the desert; the Jews formed an identity in exile.
From the infertile desert, God brought forth a new world. The promised one and the promised land, the hope and the future that all the world would be blessed through.
The Jews in exile looked forward to a promised one, an anointed one, who would deliver them, who would deliver the kingdom of God.
As we wander through our desert, each day and throughout each day, we choose which path to follow. The path that leads to death or the path that leads to life. The paths aren’t always clearly marked, so choose wisely.
To borrow from Yoda: the knowledge of good and evil leads to self-righteousness; self-righteousness leads to pride; pride leads to fear; fear leads us to divide and separate; division and separation lead to anger; anger leads to hate; hate leads to suffering and pain which lead to death. Suffering and pain can lead us to humility or to deepen our resolve into self-righteousness and ultimately death.
The knowledge of the kingdom of God leads to humility; humility leads to repentance; repentance leads to mercy; mercy leads to love; love steps into suffering and eases pain which leads to hope, and hope leads to new life. Providing hope can lead into deeper humility or to the path of self-righteousness.
The knowledge of the kingdom of God is revealed in Jesus. The Promised One. Our hope and our future.