Fairly Spiritual: Keeping the faith as we wander

With the 2010 Mariners baseball season on the horizon, I’ve been thinking a lot about how the children of Israel wandered for many years in the wilderness.

With the 2010 Mariners baseball season on the horizon, I’ve been thinking a lot about how the children of Israel wandered for many years in the wilderness.

For those of you unfamiliar with the story, the Mariners, I mean the Israelites wandered for many, many years in the wilderness. Eventually, God led them into the Promised Land. The Israelites that is, not as of yet, the Mariners.

No, when it comes to the Seattle Mariners, we are still waiting on the wrong side of the Jordan River. However, hope springs eternal, and we are once again looking for the waters to part.

Fans of perpetually losing teams are often labeled as “faithful” or “diehard.” These words evoke the wilderness experience as well. While the fickle and faint-hearted turn back to Egypt at the first sign of a losing season, the “diehard” fan endures winless droughts and endless disappointment with stoic grace. Unwilling to surrender hope, the faithful fan looks toward the Promised Land while taking solace in the daily manna of discussing trade rumors, batting averages and pitching matchups.

As faith plays a crucial role in the life of a Seattle sports fan, faith is indispensable in the life of every Christian. Faith is both the fuel and the fruit of a prolonged wilderness experience. Faith enters the equation when the Promised Land seems but a promise. Faith sets our course when present struggles evoke feelings of purgatorial endlessness.

No one sets their course for a protracted or painful wilderness experience. Even so, if you live life long enough, eventually you’re going to wake up in the wilderness.

In the last couple months I’ve been working my way through a one-year Bible reading plan. As I’ve read through the Exodus story, I’m struck with how God dealt with the children of Israel as they wandered through an extremely harsh wilderness.

During their struggle for daily survival, God turned the Israelites’ attention to the issue of how to abide. Not how to abide with nature, but how to abide with God. It is between Egypt and the Promised Land that God showed the Israelites the importance of learning how to be with Him. God provided His chosen people instructions on how to worship, honor and serve Him. In the wilderness, God taught the children of Israel how to tabernacle with their Creator.

Sometimes we must lose almost everything to truly understand what we have. When we are stripped bare of our adornments and accoutrements, we are forced to draw upon our inner resolve and our inner reserves. When everything has fallen to the wayside, we are left with the eternal question, “What remains?” Or more importantly, “Do I have anything of value that cannot be swallowed up by the wilderness?”

Faith is the substance of things hoped for and the assurance of things not yet seen. Even more, faith is a certain resource for all wilderness wanderers. With this in mind, let me make one last announcement.

Attention, ladies and gentlemen. This is your wilderness guide speaking. Please make sure that you leave everything behind but your faith. Oh, I don’t have any idea of how we are actually going to get to the Promised Land … and I’m not really sure on when we are going to finally get there. But God’s instructions seemed rather clear.

Just bring your faith … Don’t worry, it’ll be all right. God told me that He’s going with us.

As far as the Mariners go, our success is less certain.

“Live from Seattle with Doug Bursch” can be heard 4-6 p.m. weekdays on KGNW 820 AM. Doug Bursch also pastors Evergreen Foursquare Church. Evergreen meets at 10 a.m. Sundays at 2407 M St. SE next to Pioneer Elementary School. He can be reached at www.fairlyspiritual.org or doug@fairlyspiritual.org.