"Guide me, O Thou great Redeemer, Pilgrim through this barren land. I am weak, but Thou art mighty; Hold me with Thy pow'rful hand. Bread of heaven, bread of heaven, Feed me till I want no more; Feed me till I want no more.
"When I tread the verge of Jordan, Bid my anxious fears subside; Death of death and hell's destruction, Land me safe on Canaan's side. Songs of praises, songs of praises I will ever give to Thee; I will ever give to Thee."
The word "pilgrim" may bring to mind the English settlers who sailed to America aboard the Mayflower. In earlier centuries, pilgrims traveled across Europe or to the Holy Land to visit sacred sites and shrines. In our hymn, we are the pilgrims, making our way through the "barren land" of this earthly life to the promised land of paradise. Our journey is compared to the exodus, as God freed Israel from slavery in Egypt and led them through the desert. The Israelites often grew weary and frustrated on their long journey, complaining bitterly and wishing they were back in Egypt. Conveniently forgetting centuries of slavery, they readily remembered filling up on meat and bread. Yet God graciously supplied their need, providing manna, the bread from heaven.
Like the Israelite pilgrims, we too may complain about our journey, thinking we do not have enough or being dissatisfied with what we have. We grow weak and weary in the face of trouble, tempted to doubt God's care. Yet as He cared for the Israelites, God provides for us. He gave us His Son to be our Savior. Freed from slavery to sin by the death of His precious Lamb, God set our feet on the path of faith, on a journey through new life to eternal life.
As Israel was sustained by manna, our faith is nourished by Jesus, "the true bread from heaven" (John 6:32b). The Israelites ate manna, yet still they died. Our living Bread promises of Himself, "If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. And the bread that I will give for the life of the world is My flesh" (John 6:51b). Fed and forgiven as we feed by faith on the Word, and nourished by Jesus' body and blood, we continue on our way.
Upon reaching Canaan, the Israelites found the Jordan River in flood, but when the priests bearing the Ark of the Covenant stepped into the river, the waters parted, allowing Israel to cross on dry land. Our journey will eventually bring us to "the verge of Jordan," the boundary between this life and life in paradise. We may be filled with "anxious fears," but Jesus has already crossed the river of death, passing through its flood to the victory of His resurrection. Jesus, the "death of death and hell's destruction," steps into death's flood before us. We will cross that river to land "safe on Canaan's side" and there forever offer "songs of praises" to the Redeemer who has brought us safely home.
THE PRAYER: Great Redeemer, forgive our sins, nourish our faith and guide us on our journey until we reach paradise and live in Your presence forever. Amen.
This Daily Devotion was written by Dr. Carol Geisler. It is based on the hymn, "Guide Me, O Thou Great Redeemer," which is found on page 918 of the Lutheran Service Book.
1. What do you do that others would call "adventurous"?
2. How does God figure into your life when you do something daring and out of the ordinary?
3. Do you challenge yourself physically? Mentally? Socially?
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