Lenten Devotion for March 26, 2019

Joshua 5:9–12 (NRSV)

9 The Lord said to Joshua, “Today I have rolled away from you the disgrace of Egypt.” And so that place is called Gilgal to this day. 10 While the Israelites were camped in Gilgal they kept the passover in the evening on the fourteenth day of the month in the plains of Jericho. 11 On the day after the passover, on that very day, they ate the produce of the land, unleavened cakes and parched grain. 12 The manna ceased on the day they ate the produce of the land, and the Israelites no longer had manna; they ate the crops of the land of Canaan that year.

This is a historic moment in Israel’s history. The manna of the desert ceases and they people begin to live off the crops of the Promised Land. A lot happened between the beginning and end of manna. Many people had died and those left had only distant memories and/or stories of captivity in Egypt. It’s hard to believe that in a few short years things could change so quickly and yet they did.  The struggle from slaves to conquerors was now about to be complete.

And I bet a few, if not many, were left wondering what is next. They had come to love the struggle. It was their normal an identity. Manna and war and seeing God move in mighty ways was a regular occurrence for about 40 or so years. And then it all settled down. Was God any less with them? No. But did it feel like that? I am guessing so.  And that is why things went quickly downhill and they consistently walked away from God which the period of the judges and kings highlights for us.

I wrote about being overwhelmed last week. Those are dangerous periods of time where we can walk off from our faith. In addition to difficult times, good times can also be places in which we leave our faith. On the mountain top it is easy to start believing the hype about ourselves. There is less need for God, or so we think, and so we relax and take our eyes of the author and perfecter of faith.

God has given the spiritual disciplines of fasting and Sabbath exactly for these times. They create a hunger, no pun intended, for God in every season whether that is mountain top or valley. But the fact is that few participate regularly in either of these disciplines and we therefore are missing the key ingredients to persevere especially on the mountain tops.

Lord, please grow my desire for you regardless of my circumstances.