In Search of Mahanaim

…for they said, “The people are hungry, weary, and thirsty in the wilderness.” II Samuel 17:29

Half Marathon

King David and his followers ran for their lives into the wilderness. Absalom, his son, was hot on the trail, and would settle for nothing less than the head of his father on a stick. Absalom had set himself up as king and sought to kill David, God’s appointed king, in order to seal the deal. David, warned of Absalom’s pursuit, “…arose and all the people with him and passed over [the river] Jordan. By daybreak, not one was left who had crossed.”

Exhausted, hungry, and thirsty he and his trove finally came to rest at Mahanaim, a place approximately 10 miles east of the river Jordan, and incidentally the same place where Jacob had wrestled with God for his blessing. The residents of Manhanaim learned of David’s plight and they sent beds, basins, wheat, barley, parched grains, honey, sheep, and cheese. God provided provision in the wilderness.  Mahanaim became a place of blessing for David and his followers.  Previously before King David’s rule Mahanaim was known as a sanctuary city where fugitives could flee to and find safety.  After King Saul’s death his son, Ishbosheth, found sanctuary in Mahanaim.  The Song of Solomon speaks of “the Dance of Mahanaim” which portrays two camps in opposition coming together to find reconciliation, harmony, and joy.   It’s safe to say that Biblical history portrays the city of Mahanaim as a place of safety, blessing, sustenance, reconciliation, harmony, and joy.  

A few years back I attempted to run a half marathon (13.1 miles) in Gloucester

Massachusetts. Gloucester, one of New England’s quiet, little fishing towns, is simply beautiful.  If you’ve ever seen the movie A Perfect Storm with George Clooney you’ve witnessed a little of the ambience Gloucester. When I signed up for the race my thought process went something like this…

“Oh, what a beautiful little place…with so much to see I bet race will be fast and maybe even a little easy.” Nothing could have been farther from the truth.

Sure, it started out that way, but by mile five I couldn’t give a rat’s ass for the scenery. The beauty was still all around me but I couldn’t enjoy what was right before my eyes because I was so exhausted and filled with doubt. 

I was hot, tired, sweaty, breathless, and my legs ached from all the hills I’d conquered. 

The hills…”Damn,” I thought, “I freaking forgot to check out the hill situation before committing to this race!” I chided myself, but chalked it up as a rookie mistake and made a mental note to not repeat it in future races.

As tired as I was, I pressed on to mile 8, and it was at that point I physically and mentally broke. I literally stopped. I couldn’t take another step and, in my heart, and mind I was defeated. I felt I had failed and I began to cry. Not knowing what else to do I pulled my phone from its pocket and called Corinne, my wife, who was waiting for me at the finish line.

“I can’t do it…I just can’t…please come and get me,” I cried into the phone.

Of course, she agreed to my request, but rather than jumping in the car and coming to my rescue she offered a suggestion instead… “Why don’t you go a little further and then if you want me to come and get you I will,” She added, “I know you can do it…I have faith in you.” In that moment her belief in me became the provision I needed in my wilderness. Her faith was my gateway to Mahanaim, a place where I could get sustenance to put one foot in front of the other until I crossed the finish line.

As we walk through this day may we be diligent to look for God’s provision in the wilderness. Maybe it’ll come from a friend, or perhaps a stranger…a warm smile…a kind word…a song…a cool breeze, the melody of wind-chimes…the love and loyalty of our fur babies…a walk in the woods or the beach… The possibilities are endless, but like all of God’s gifts they do us no good unless we receive them. 

Go out into your world and receive the Mahanaims God has for you, and then become the Mahanaim to those around you. 

receive love.  give love.  repeat.

Prayer:  Lord, open my eyes to your blessings and make me a blessing for all who cross my path.  Amen.   

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