It must have been disheartening. The Israelites had tried to do things their own way and had failed miserably. They had watched everything crumble around them and for the past thirty-eight years they had wandered around a desert, hoping and praying for a fresh start.
Finally they came to the valley of Zered. It was the turning point their generation had been waiting for since birth.
Zered was a wadi – a special type of desert valley. Shaped by a coursing river, it was destined to dry up completely when the rains were gone. The land bore the imprint of faded river trails – memories of life that had long since departed – and most of the year it was dry. But when the rains came, the sound would echo from the mountains, faint then thundering as the burgeoning river crashed to meet the thirsty ground once again. Its flow may have been short-lived – sometimes only annual – but the river brought a time of rebirth and renewal in the desert. Wildflowers burst from the ground and scattered their color across the sienna backdrop. The desert sprang to life for a short but beautiful season.
When the Israelites arrived at the wadi, the fresh growth of life around them echoed their own circumstances. They had spent so many aimless years wandering in a dry place, surrounded with memories of old mistakes and faded promises. There were still obstacles ahead – they still had to cross Jordan and conquer the land – but the crossing of this valley was a pivotal moment. They were entering into a new season.
So often we wander through our own very personal wilderness, haunted by past mistakes, and wonder if God could possibly breathe new purpose into our lives. Still, whether you are on your second, eleventh, or even hundredth chance, God will still reach out to you.
II Corinthians 5:17 offers an awesome promise:
“Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.”
As you wonder in your wilderness, don’t despair when you come to a valley – it just might be the signal that your new season is about to begin.
bonus: watch the river rejoin the wadi