June 27, 2018 by Linda Maynard
My husband, Dave, and I experienced a desert wandering on our honeymoon. In reality it was a tropical island wandering, but I imagine many of our fears were similar to the Israelites’ during their journey through the desert.
We spent the first ten days of our marriage in Barbados. Wanting to explore the tiny Caribbean island at our own pace, we decided to rent the transportation of choice—a mini moke, aka a dune buggy. We happily set out on our adventure, anxious to see all the local sights. Just a few miles into the trip, however, we discovered two unfortunate realities: Barbados street signs were few and far between, and our moke was starting to choke. While my husband steered the stalling vehicle and navigated ill-marked roads, I panicked. Loudly. As Moses had to deal with the grumbling and complaining Israelites, Dave had to endure the cries of a fear-pierced wife.
Hours later, in the dark of night, we found ourselves stranded in the middle of nowhere. The only place to seek help was a sugar shack—a tiny, tin-roofed Bajan rum house. Two patrons offered to lead us back to our place. Before setting out, they gave us one piece of advice: follow their lights. We listened to their words, and we made our way home.
God’s protection over us on our honeymoon was just a small taste of His Lordship over the Israelites in their desert season. Our Bajan friends’ advice on that frightening night reminds me of Jesus’s words in John 8:12: “Again, Jesus spoke to them, saying, ‘I am the Light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”
Jesus was speaking to the Jews who were gathered in the temple to celebrate the last day of the annual Feast of Booths. Centuries before, God ordained this seven-day feast for three reasons. God wanted the Jewish people to remember their ancestors’ desert experience, realize three important attributes about their Heavenly Father, and recognize that Messiah was coming.
The Feast of Booths displayed these attributes of God:
- He is Provider – Throughout the Israelites’ expedition to the Promised Land, God provided tents (booths) for their shelter, manna for their food, and water for their sustenance.
- He is Present – God was present with His people throughout their desert season. He came to them in a pillar of cloud by day, and a pillar of fire by night. To see the pillar was to know God’s presence.
- God Lights the Path – The pillar of cloud and fire not only marked God’s presence, but also provided the Israelites’ direction through the unmarked desert.
Hundreds of years later, the Bible records Jesus participating in the annual feast. But this year was special. This year would expand God’s provision, presence, and guidance forever.
- As the Jews remembered God providing water to the Israelites at Horeb, Jesus declared Himself the Living Water for all who believed.
- As they recalled God’s presence in the desert, Jesus celebrated in their midst.
- And as they closed the celebration under the Temple lampstands—remembering God’s pillar of light for their ancestors’ journey—Jesus loudly declared Himself to be the Light of the world who would lead all who follow Him out of darkness into the light of life.
Friend, I’d love to say that my husband’s and my day of darkness in Barbados was the only trial we’ve had. Truth is that we have encountered several dark circumstances in our 29-year marriage. But here is the good news! Our safe return home from the dark streets of Barbados was just a foreshadowing of God’s continued deliverance of us through many other uncharted territories. His greatest guidance of all was into the arms of our Savior, Jesus Christ, the Light of the world! Whoever follows Jesus will be delivered from the darkness of sin into the light of His presence. The Bible says, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:2).
On that terrifying night in Barbados, God gave us lights to guide us to safety. Years later, He guided us to His Son, the Light of the world, providing us a forever home as His children.
Will you allow Jesus to be your Light of life as well? As He invited those at the Feast of Booths, He also is inviting you.