For 50 years before the dawn of America’s Civil War, the people, places, and various hideouts on the Underground Railroad helped rescue slaves from the southern states, leading them towards freedom. The journey was filled with risks for both the slave, or passenger, and those offering assistance along the “railroad.” The conductor who led slaves along escape routes faced hanging if caught. The stations where food and shelter were provided were often scattered 20 miles apart, a journey that could be safely attempted only in the inky blackness of night. Even stockholders who supplied monies and extra food were at risk of prosecution if their deeds were discovered. African slaves risked everything for the sake of freedom from bondage. Pressing on was the only option– no looking back.
Many hundreds of years before African slaves in America set out to find a promised land of freedom, the Israelites were led out of the bondage of slavery in Egypt towards a land promised to them by God. It flowed with milk and honey, but the path leading to it was riddled with hardships. The slaves wandered through a wilderness and lost faith in their God, the men even accusing Him of having the intent of killing them and enslaving their women and children once again. They wanted to give up, crying out in unison against their leaders:
Their voices rose in a great chorus of complaint against Moses and Aaron. “We wish we had died in Egypt,” they wailed, “or even here in the wilderness, rather than be taken into this country ahead of us. Jehovah will kill us there, and our wives and little ones will become slaves. Let’s get out of here and return to Egypt!” Numbers 14: 2-3
It would take the reassurance and courage of two spies in their group to remind them that God was with them and would give them victory:
Two of the spies, Joshua (the son of Nun), and Caleb (the son of Jephunneh), ripped their clothing and said to all the people, “It is a wonderful country ahead, and the Lord loves us. He will bring us safely into the land and give it to us. It is very fertile, a land ‘flowing with milk and honey’! Oh, do not rebel against the Lord, and do not fear the people of the land. For they are but bread for us to eat! The Lord is with us and he has removed his protection from them! Don’t be afraid of them!” Numbers 14: 6-9
Getting from where we are to where we can live in freedom, faith, and courage, is never found on a flawless and safe path. The temptation to say “let’s get out of here” will be strong at times. Only you can decide for your journey. But always remember, the Lord loves you, and He will lead you safely! Will it be milk and honey, or slavery?