The wilderness. That has been my primary perspective to understand the Christian life. We were redeemed from the slavery to sin, and we are on a life-long journey through various trials and tribulations till we enter the promised land — our Father’s house.
The Covid-19 pandemic allowed me to add a new lens to my wilderness understanding. As the Israelites traversed the desert, it was not linear. They had to stop and start continually — wherever, and whenever the cloud of the Lord would lead them. I didn’t pay much attention to this staccato rhythm until the virus impact hit home.
It was not so much the threat of death or illness, but much more the fact that the rules kept changing. Each time I was ready to get used to a “new normal”, there would be some different regulation from the government that would completely disorient my lifestyle. This happened in multiple arenas — home, family, work, church — so it was all very confusing. It felt like the rug was pulled out from under me not just once but several times. After a while, you wonder whether you should bother to get up at all — is life even worth living….
Yet that would have been the dislocation that those Israelites experienced. Each new leg of the journey meant leaving the familiar and starting again, not knowing what challenges and changes faced them in this new phase of wilderness wandering, and not having a clue how long this phase would last. It was madly disruptive. And yet it was God orchestrating the disruption.
Meditating on Psalm 90, I finally understood what Moses meant when he said, “Lord you have been our dwelling place…”. There is no stability in this life. Everything will be shaken and shaken again — that is a promise. Only the everlasting God can be our stability, our safety, our sanctuary. He is the only Rock to hang on to when you walk on shifting sands.
I am learning what that means now… but it is a hard lesson… I prefer more tangible handrails.
Rev Dr Dev Menon is the pastor in charge of discipleship at Zion Bishan Bible-Presbyterian Church. He is married to one wonderful wife, Chene, and they have four children, Josiah, Jerusha, Tirzah and Jeremiah. Dev is also the author of The Plate Spinner, The Pattern, Run to the Rock, and The Rest Race.