Wow. If I could figure out a way to convey what it is that God has been really trying to teach me lately…oh, if only! My words simply don’t do it justice. I have a hard time wrapping my brain around it–so that is part of the problem.
The wilderness represents that place that I have always considered UNDESIRABLE. It is a place like the old joke says that you would rather be FROM than be in right now. For me, one example of a wilderness place is the place where I find myself unhappy with my physical body. I want something else. I want to be fitter, thinner, yada yada. When I view myself through my “wilderness hating eyes” all I can think of is “I have to get out of this place.” Discontentment. Worse than that…it is with a total lack of acceptance of the place. So applied to the body thing it is “I have to look different to be ok.” Obviously, this isn’t God’s plan for me, but before we dismiss it, consider how this so permeates our thinking in subtle ways…
In this place my eyes are fixated on “Canaan”…the place where the wilderness will only be a memory. To continue the analogy, it is the place where I hope to be thin, to have the body I feel ok about and living there “in freedom.” It is that place where I assume I will never worry about gaining weight back ever again, I will be “normal” and no longer “struggle.” Hmm…even thinking this through, I see the defects in my thinking! But let me press on.
I thought I had landed at the “desirable” place, in Canaan, and even stayed there a year. If all that this was about was the physical, then I had!
God showed me something…I had missed the point of the wilderness. Missed it COMPLETELY. If I had gotten the point of the wilderness, I wouldn’t have been in the state I was in once I arrived “in Canaan.” Once I was thin, I wouldn’t have been freaking out about staying there, clinging to the bathroom scale for all I was worth.
So off I trudged back into the wilderness again…very begrudgingly. Again, my eyes on the “if only” and discontentment with where I am now. The wilderness seems to be lackluster and stretch endlessly without any promise.
But…here is the thing…in the wilderness, at the farthest end (check your bible map) away from Canaan there emerges a place of wonder…Mt. Sinai. And what did God use Mt. Sinai to do? To rock the world of His people. To unveil His bigness. If parting the Red Sea wasn’t enough, if appearing as a pillar of cloud and fire daily wasn’t enough, if providing manna and an oasis, sweet water from bitter…if all of that wasn’t enough, God’s intention was to show up as holy, almighty GOD in a way that would cause Israel to know that He is God and that He wants a relationship with his people.
The wilderness is all about God. It isn’t about MY discontentment. It is where God takes me to learn to lean on him. If I relish the wilderness, I am learning to relish HIM and learning to value depending on HIM.
This is huge for me. It takes my eyes off of the supposed promise of things to come and causes me to anticipate the NOW. My physical body has little to do with anything really. What matters HUGELY is God…is GOD…is ALMIGHTY GOD!!!
He is challenging me…will I let go of my insistence that there even be a “land of promise?” Will I release my hold on the “if only” and allow my gaze to be pulled from Canaan? Will I crucify this posture of pride that says my hope is out there somewhere? Will I choose instead to relish this wilderness walk, in the now, and delight in the pillar as my Lord travels with me–NOW? Am I on the edge of my seat (so to speak) as to what God will do next, how he will show up, how reliable he is? How sufficient He is to be my all, to be what satisfies…no, not instead of food, but COMPLETELY??? Oh, my heart is convicted with the answers to these questions!
The wilderness is where “stuff happens!”
Check out Isaiah 35 by clicking this link. Look at all that happens when God shows up in the wilderness! WOW!
This blog is titled “God is Doing a New Thing.” That comes from yet another passage, Isaiah 43:18-19:
do not dwell on the past.
19 See, I am doing a new thing!
Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
I am making a way in the desert
and streams in the wasteland.
This, too, is a description of the wilderness, the wasteland. Notice the word “IN!” It is IN the desert, the wasteland, IN that place where “it is good to be FROM” supposedly where God does a new thing…constantly…This is out IN the wilderness. He is at work. He wants me to relish the Wilderness Walk because there I can see HIM at work, I can experience HIS awesomeness, I can know HIM. More than my health, being thin and fit…blah blah blah…oh how he wants my heart!
In Hosea 2 God speaks of rebellious Israel this way:
I will lead her into the desert
and speak tenderly to her.
15 There I will give her back her vineyards,
and will make the Valley of Achor a door of hope.
There she will sing as in the days of her youth,
as in the day she came up out of Egypt.
The wilderness is an opportunity to know Him. It is definitely related to letting go of the bathroom scale, too. That piece of metal kept me constantly looking somewhere else other than now and here. I missed what God was doing NOW. He wants me…not just for the purpose of him being enough so that I don’t turn to food and can get thin. He wants me PERIOD.
Lord, please work in me a true delight in the Wilderness Walk. May I thrill to being alone with you, leaning on you, waiting for you and seeing you show up and be God. Open my eyes that I might not miss a thing. Keep my eyes and heart from any focus but being here, now, with you. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.