so you wanna go back to Egypt
The songs of our childhood linger, even when we move away from the genre, theology, or small town of our upbringing. Radio, cassettes, 8 track tapes in the way back of the Chevy station wagon. Bob Dylan and Keith Green.
So you wanna go back to Egypt
Where it’s warm and secure
Are sorry you bought the one way ticket
When you thought you were sure
You wanted to live in the land of promise
But now it’s getting so hard
Are you sorry you’re out here in the desert
Instead of your own back yard
Wilderness times are rough. No doubt about it. Our first year in Champaign-Urbana, I found myself echoing the children of Israel, “Why have you brought us out in the desert to die?!” It was a lonely time. No job, no money, none of my own friends. One-way streets that I couldn’t remember and Google maps not yet invented. I missed beautiful Harrisonburg, VA. I missed my college friends on the East Coast.
Do we all have wilderness times? Probably. Are they a necessary part of transitions? Seems likely. Perhaps you know someone there now. Perhaps you find yourself in a desert.
The obvious thing that occurred to me today is that just because something is hard, even miserable, doesn’t mean you made a mistake. That concept makes a lot of sense on the other side of the Jordan, when you finally taste the milk and honey. But when you’re out of water, feeling like you’re gonna die, our choices can seem like a colossal mistakes.
How do we keep going? One foot in front of the other? Occasionally sinking to the ground. Sometimes someone picks us up and helps us take another step forward. Sometimes water comes from the rock.
So you wanna to back to Egypt
Where your friends wait for you
You can throw a big party and tell the whole gang
Of what they said was all true
Supporting someone on their journey away from us can also be hard. When friends move, sometimes we struggle to be happy for them. When their going gets tough, can we help strengthen their resolve to make it through? Sometimes we are the ones who stay, other times we testify to the need for others to go.
While my taste in music, beliefs, and surroundings have changed, the value of the scriptures, metaphors, truths remain. Life is a journey, both individually and collectively. Sometimes we rejoice in new freedoms, gifts, and adventures ahead. Other parts are so hard that it makes former slavery look attractive.
Today, may we find the support we need to keep going. May we lend strength to our companions when they are running out of water. May we remember, and remind each other, than we are not alone. The Lord is with us in wilderness and in feasting. -Renée