Wandering Exile and New Direction

‘When the Lord restored the fortunes of Zion, then were we like those who dream’ (Psalm 126: 1).

The people of Israel faced confusion and exile. They wandered in the wilderness for 40 years after God delivered them from slavery in Egypt. In later years many of the people of Israel were exiled to Babylon after the conquest of Jerusalem. Wandering and exile mean dislocation, confusion, and an unknown future. We can identify with the people of Israel as we ask God to “work through our struggle and confusion” to accomplish the divine purposes on earth (BCP, p. 815).

The good news is that God is present for us even when we wander in disorientation and exile. We can be found by God’s generosity and discover him near us, even in the most extreme situations. God will do “a new thing” for us, making “a way in the wilderness/and rivers in the desert” (Isaiah 43:19). Divine grace draws us in the way of healing, wholeness, and new direction — like a drink of water for a thirsty person in a parched desert.

God’s generous love for us will lead us out of exile. The experience of new hope and possibility can be a time of joy. The psalmist recalls that “When the Lord restored the fortunes of Zion/then were we like those who dream.” The return from exile is a time for celebration: “Then was our mouth filled with laughter / and our tongue with shouts of joy” (Psalm 126: 1-2). God’s generosity brings us home from exile. God’s love invites us to let go of what is behind us. We reach forward to what lies ahead with our eyes on the prize of our heavenly call in Christ Jesus (Phil. 3:13-14). Our faith is to be generous, urgent, and forward-looking.

We can know God’s generosity more fully through participation. The anointing of Jesus by Mary was an act of incredible generosity. She took a pound of costly perfume to anoint his feet, and wiped them with her hair. Judas Iscariot criticized Mary’s beautiful gift, but Jesus was honored by her loving gesture, and he would not allow Judas’ criticism, as Jesus explained that Mary had anointed him in a beautiful way before his death.

We can also know God’s generosity as we give ourselves beyond expectations and requirements. We can

overcome the critical voice in us that objects to our own generosity, and complains that our gift could have served our own advantage. We may discover that the way out of disorientation and confusion is found as we offer ourselves in love.

Look It Up

James Weldon Johnson’s hymn text, “Lift every voice and sing,” states “Stony the road we trod, bitter the chastening rod, felt in the days when hope unborn had died; yet, with a steady beat, have not our weary feet come to the place for which our parents sighed?” (Hymn 599, verse 2).

Think About It

When have you been lost or confused? How did your faith make a difference? How did you find God present? Can you share this experience with others?

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