But God led them through the wilderness

Exodus 13:17-18 When Pharaoh let the people go, God did not lead them by way of the land of the Philistines, although that was near. For God said, “Lest the people change their minds when they see war and return to Egypt.”But God led the people around by the way of the wilderness.

I like efficiency. You too? I like linear progress, from A to B to C . . . I value reaching the end of a day knowing what I have accomplished.

This week has been the opposite of that. I’ve spent most of my time on the couch and in bed fighting a nasty cold. I’ve cancelled appointments and events I’m disappointed not to participate in. I’ve postponed lunches and dinners. I haven’t held my newborn granddaughter or played with my two-year-old grandson. I think about tackling a project and instead end up back on the couch for another nap. I’ve accomplished hardly anything from my long to-do list. You’ve been here, right?

Image from Shutterstock by Becky Wright Photography

I have just enough energy to be frustrated by all this. I’m doing everything “right,” (lots of vitamin C, etc.) yet I keep on hacking and sneezing, and now the virus has gone to my eyes. I woke up with my eyes matted shut. Conjunctivitis or “pinkeye,” doubtless from the same virus as my cold.

Could God be leading me into and through this type of “wilderness”? Doesn’t he like me to be productive and connected?

I don’t intend to imply through that question that God gave me this cold. I know I caught one of the zillion viruses that inhabit our world all the time. But I know God can accomplish something in me while I’m slowed down, “off my game.” He can teach me things I’m usually too busy to contemplate.

One thing I’m doing is spending more time with the Litany of Penitence our church uses in Lent. Just in case I’m tempted to think I’m “doing pretty well, maybe better than most people,” here are phrases that catch me up:

For all our unfaithfulness and disobedience; for the pride, vanity, and hypocrisy of our lives

Lord, have mercy upon us, for we have sinned against you.

For our self-pity and impatience, and our envy of those we think more fortunate than ourselves

Lord, have mercy upon us, for we have sinned against you.

For our unrighteous anger, bitterness and resentment; for all lies, gossip, and slander against our neighbors

Lord, have mercy upon us, for we have sinned against you.

For our sexual impurity, our exploitation of other people, and our failure to give of ourselves in love

Lord, have mercy upon us, for we have sinned against you.

For our self-indulgent appetites and ways, and our intemperate pursuit of worldly goods and comforts

Lord, have mercy upon us, for we have sinned against you.

For our dishonesty in daily life and work, our ingratitude for your gifts, and our failure to heed your call

Lord, have mercy upon us, for we have sinned against you.

For our blindness to human need and suffering, and our indifference to injustice and cruelty

Lord, have mercy upon us, for we have sinned against you.

For our wastefulness and misuse of your creation, and our lack of concern for those who come after us

Lord, have mercy upon us, for we have sinned against you.

For all false judgments, for prejudice and contempt of others, and for all uncharitable thoughts and actions toward our neighbors

Lord, have mercy upon us, for we have sinned against you.

For our negligence in prayer and worship, for our presumption and abuse of your means of grace

Lord, have mercy upon us, for we have sinned against you.

For seeking the praise of others rather than the approval of God

Lord, have mercy upon us, for we have sinned against you.

For our failure to commend the faith that is in us

Lord, have mercy upon us, for we have sinned against you.

Show favor to your people, O Lord, who turn to you in weeping, fasting, and prayer. For you are a merciful God, full of compassion, long-suffering, and abounding in steadfast love. You spare when we deserve punishment, and in your wrath you remember mercy. Spare your people, good Lord, spare us; in the multitude of your mercies, look upon us and forgive us; through the merits and mediation of your blessed Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

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