Schlepping Thru the Desert

“Your clothes didn’t wear out,


Your feet didn’t swell . . . “

Deut. 8:4

I bet you’re thinking…”WHAT??!!   Is that in the Bible?”

Well, not the schlepping word exactly, but I have been focusing on the incredible stories of the 40 years journey of God’s people in the desert. I’m contemplating the former Hebrew slaves of Egypt, God’s people, “schlepping”  through the desert, learning Who God is, who they were, what it meant to be free, and what it meant to become a nation. (‘Schlepping’ is an old Yiddish term that just seems appropriate to use in this context.  It’s kinda walking, trudging, dragging along on foot.)  They could have completed their “desert experience” in a year, but their desert “classroom” period lasted 40 years…..  They had a lot to learn.

A million people, having lived as slaves for centuries, had a lot of hard work to do to begin living an entirely new life as a nation… as free people.  It would have been a tremendous challenge just to change their mentality in becoming free after centuries of forced slavery.  But to become a nation . .regaining their identity as people, as a nation  . . . yikes.  That’s a LOT of emotional, mental, and relational adjustment.

But these were God’s own.  He was there from the Beginning.  His Plan had not changed.  The desert years were His Time with His people.  The former slave nation needed to learn what it was to be God’s People. . . to learn what life as a nation and as a Family would be.  He gave them the “Family Rules” – 10 of them . . . the guiding principles for how they would live with Him and each other as His Family.

Imagine your entire extended family traveling through a desert together.  Even for a day, much less 40 years!   The bickering, the whining,  the “pit stops” in the middle of nowhere,  an extremely limited food selection – SAME THING EVERY DAY!  No shade.  No map.  No Kwik Trip. “I’m HOT!”…”Yeah….Live with it!” No showers.  No air conditioning.  Every day the same. . . pick up the blanket, drag it along, find the sandals, find the kids, eat the manna, spare the water, check on Gramma,  drag the “stuff” you’d grabbed on your way out of Egypt.  Argue again about “why did you have to bring that!? You carry it then.”   “I’m sure we passed that same rock 3 months ago!”   “Who’s reading the map???”   “Is there a map?”   and “If Gladys tells me that same story one more time . . . I’m gonna smack her!”

All of this going on day in, day out.  Weeks…months….years….  And they were going around in a massive circle, basically.  Lots of grumbling about that, too !!!

But recently, re-reading that ancient story, I noticed a sentence I’d never caught before.

Deut. 8:2  “Remember that for 40 years the Lord your God led you on your journey in the desert . . (:4)Your clothes didn’t wear out, and your feet didn’t swell these past 40 years.

(Note:  SWELL … not “smell.”)  

Those little details spoke volumes to me.  God’s kindness and attention to details that matter to us is so sweet . .so personal . .so practical. . . so loving.   I can definitely relate to the detail of swollen feet from schlepping through hot sands every day.  Trying to find a stable surface to put my hot, swollen feet and ankles up against to try to relieve the effects of gravity was a constant longing.   Without enough water to drink, it seemed a dream to use precious water on my feet. . . or clothes.

For many of us, the thought of wearing the same thing EVERY DAY sounds horrible.  But despite the circumstances, their clothes lasted.  Miraculously.  40 YEARS!   (I realize that for most of us, even if we’re crazy about a piece of clothing, we don’t get excited about it lasting for 40 years!)

God, Who was caring for a troublesome nation He dearly loved, had all the major, national needs covered for all those years.  Despite their complaints, rebellions, and failures, He still attended to the details of their everyday struggles.  It gives a glimpse into His love and intimacy toward His People…His Family.  He was “in the details.”

As we schlep along through our days, may we take note of all those kind details that He cares about in our daily lives, too.  And be grateful.

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