Friday, 11 January 2013

A Place of Milk and Honey

"So I have come down to rescue them from the hand of the Egyptians and to bring them up out of the land into a good and spacious land, a land flowing with milk and honey"... Exodus 3:8 (NIV)

Daybreak is once again softened by swaying mists. Nature seems to fall silent at times like these. The birds huddle in their nests and at Inesi we do the same. The man of the nest has gone to fetch milk for the week, from a valley farm called Dunskye. It arrives warm, frothy and rich, with the sweet smell of goodness. A whole source of nourishment, which leaves an impressive moustasche that makes little ones smile. At times like these I am reassured by the fullness of heart that is the reward of a life lived "simply" and dependent on grace.

Imagine the longing that Israel must have felt for the elusive land of milk and honey. Not only was this a release from slavery, Canaan epitomised the cornucopia of agricultural blessings that they had been deprived of during their desert wanderings. A spacious land covered with pink hawthorn, red cyclamen, and white rock rose. There are the flowers of its myriad wild fruits, and the warm valley air smelling of their nectar. (In the Bible the original Hewbrew words for both milk and honey referred to a refined essence, not merely plain milk and honey. This also existed in Egypt as much as it did in the land of Israel).

River Jordan, where Jesus was baptised
But their impatience and stubborn disobedience angered God. That generation never entered the promised land. Even Moses himself died when they were a single march away from their fertile destination. I imagine this great and faithful prophet and leader did not have bitterness in his heart when he surrendered his soul to God. He had his eyes on eternity, the real promised land a mere breath away. From the mountain of Nebo, God showed him the plain of the valley of Jericho, the city of palm trees and all the land that spread between the valley and the River Jordan which they would have to cross. He saw it with his own eyes, but did not cross over into it. But he called the children of Israel and gave them his blessing, knowing that God's purpose for him had been fulfilled. He had known his God, face to face.

From a very tender age, I always longed to live in a place where the wind blows freely. Where chaos is contained in a majestic thunderstorm. Where the struggle is not for sanity and the main pursuit not for the fleeting pleasure of material possessions or satisfaction of the flesh. I imagined my release from "slavery" to be such a place, a place like Hogsback. We had dreams of self-sustainability and gentle abundance. Even though this is a place that overflows with earthly goodness and beauty, it was not the land of milk and honey of my dreams. I could attempt to list all the wonders of our village and never exhaust the depth of it, but still not have the personal peace that we all long for.

The Jordan valley near Jericho,
near where the ancient Figs where found
Think of Israel. While the depiction of the promised land is literal, it is mostly a symbol of abundance of life in His presence, and a walk of obedience to God. For them, the journey to the land of milk and honey became a death march of disobedience. And their children that did make it in, did they live to accomplish the "promised land"? No, they too threw away their saving grace with their disobedience.

God forgave his chosen people and still does. He is bringing them back to Him one by one, day by day. I know this to be the truth for us also. Our dreams were self-centered, often still are. We were trapped in a spiritual desert for so long that we forgot the real promise we have in Christ. We are privileged to now be part of a fellowship where truth and direction is drawn from God's word. Amongst people that admit their brokenness, are willing to serve and surrender, we are loved, mentored and supported in so many ways.

This is our Saviour's invitation to us. I hope that we can all make it our own, answer with a resounding YES! and enjoy a life overflowing with the milk and honey of His grace.

"Come, all you who are thirsty,
come to the waters;
and you who have no money,
come, buy and eat!
Come, buy wine and milk
without money and without cost.
Why spend money on what is not bread,
and your labour on what does not satisfy.
Listen, listen to me,
and eat what is good.
And your soul will delight in the richest of fare." Isaiah 55: 1-2 (NIV)

1 comment:

  1. beautiful, as always. Thank you Friend