Wilderness life moves us to simplicity and the bare essentials. Supplies are prioritized because we can only carry so much and the terrain is difficult. Spiritual wilderness reflects the same realities. It reveals what is really important and we only keep around us those things of critical value.
The Israelites found themselves in a wilderness situation after fleeing the Egyptians. They left Egypt quickly, not even waiting for their bread to rise, and miraculously escaped across the Red Sea. Once safely out of the reach of the Egyptians, but still not having arrived anywhere yet, they began to rejoice. They pulled out their tambourines and began dancing and singing, glorifying God.
Then the prophet Miriam, Aaron's sister, took a tambourine in her hand. All the women followed her playing tambourines and dancing. Exodus 15:20
Apparently, they came prepared for praise. They anticipated joy. Among all the things they could have brought with them – and would need to carry through the desert – they chose to include a tambourine.
That preaches to my heart. When I feel most prepared, it’s because I’m ready for worst-case scenarios, not miracles. Looking at the wilderness ahead, a tambourine would not make my list of must-haves. But maybe they knew better. Maybe they understood that even in the wilderness there would be times of joy, times of praise and celebration. Despite their circumstance, the Israelites expected joy ahead and, by faith, came prepared.
I want to live in such a way that I expect joy even, and maybe especially, when things are tough. God is good. There will always be wilderness seasons in my life, some harsher than others. I just bought a small tambourine for my home. I want to be reminded to eagerly anticipate the work of God and to expect joy.