A puppy grows and develops in their first year the equivalency of 7 years for a human child, at least that is what I have read. It’s the origin of “dog years” despite the fact that every year of a dog’s life is not equivalent to 7 human years. 2020 seems to be a dog year in length.
As I sit and think of where we are as a church and as a community, I can feel the anxiety and impatience around me. We just want to be over all this.
I started thinking about the 40 years in the wilderness for the Israelites and the 40 days in the wilderness that Jesus faced. In those 40 years for the Israelites, they saw some amazing miracles. Daily God fed them Manna from heaven.Yet they focused on how much better the food was in Egypt, forgetting how hard the slavery was and the fact that male Israelite children were being killed. They complained and murmured on a regular basis. They were so over the wandering, they complained that God had rescued them from slavery. Now I know the Israelites spent hundreds of years in Egypt. God seems silent from after Joseph’s death to God calling Moses. I am sure the Israelites told the story of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Joseph in their communities but they still are interacting with the God of their fathers in a new way. They need to learn who this God is and what this God is like. Yet throughout the 40 years, as God shows he will provide for them, they still struggle with complaining and doubt.
Jesus faced 40 days—not years—in the wilderness without food. Israel spent those 40 years in an up and down relationship with God while Jesus spent those 40 days in communion with the Father. Strengthened by his relationship with the Father, he was able to face temptation confidently. His focus was on who His Father was and on His mission.
Perhaps this is our wilderness. We have a choice to focus on what we have lost and what we miss or to focus on God, our blessings, and our mission. That doesn’t mean we do not mourn our losses. We don’t let loss be our identity. We don’t let what we once had keep us from the promise of God’s future for us.
October and November bring us into the season for harvest and Thanksgiving. So I challenge you for October and November to practice thanksgiving. Perhaps it is posting on Facebook what you are thankful for each day. Or sending a letter each day to someone you are thankful to or for. Take a picture every day of something or someone that makes you thankful. I know many wait for November to put into place a practice of thanksgiving. With the year we have had, I am thinking we need to choose a little thanksgiving more often. I personally don’t want 40 years in this wilderness so I am going to find a practice through October and November to focus on gratitude and thankfulness. I invite you to be creative in your practice of gratitude.