I'm about to teach an online Bible Study on Spiritual Wilderness. I've been studying for this study my entire life - I'm not exaggerating. Wilderness was the theme of my life long before I knew to name it. I've always known struggle and drought, but the past 10 years have really been the thickets, driest, and yet most sustained parts of my road. I realized, while writing the study, that I've stopped waiting to cross the threshold. I've stopped resenting the liminal space; the in between space. For years I cried out for relief; I ached and groaned and prayed for something new. The Struggle had consumed me and, in my brokenness, I longed for change. But somewhere along the way I've embraced my Wilderness.
I wasn't wrong to want more. Actually, I was MADE to want more. It's in my design - it's in the DNA of humanity. We want more because there IS more. We long for relief because there IS peace. We ache for our lives to pieced together because we weren't created to be fragmented. Our souls are crying out for what they know is attainable. We are stretching towards freedom because we KNOW in our deepest spaces that freedom is our's. The desire for more is appropriate. Don't lose that, friends. That ache is a sign that you are fully alive and fully living.
But part of MORE is the recognition that the road we are traveling is the right road. The wound of living life in liminal space is soothed by the sweetness of the Presence of God in the midst of our Wildernesses. Transformation happens when we stop raging against the ache and we embrace it. Life bursts through the muck of our struggle when we realize that we are ENCOUNTERING. God deals in Wilderness. It's how he draws us to abundance; it's how he places freedom in the palms of our hands. Wilderness isn't a punshiment - it's a beautiful furnace. We need it, friends. I know those words make the ache push a little deeper into your tired heart. I know. Me too. The mere fact that you are FEELING the ache means you are traveling well. You aren't numb, or abandoned to your brokenness. You are pressing into the hard places and allowing the gift of Encounter to overwhelm the weight of Struggle.
God's Wilderness is a gift.
It was a gift to the Israelites.
It was a gift to King David.
It was a gift to Gomer.
It was a gift to Jesus.
It is a gift to us now.
Someday the weight of our long traveled roads will reveal the fiercely strong presence of Aslan, the King who travels with us. We will step over a threshold onto new land and our hearts will ache again. We will long for the Wilderness and how he met us there. We will remember his whisper in our dark night and the sound of his breath nudging us forward. We will remember who we were before we stepped into the desert. We will exhale and find immense gratitude for how the Wilderness has changed us.
Someday we will see the gift, even if for now we simply need to see the next step. Grace abounds, friends. It is the most abundant and consuming gift for you in your own Wilderness. Grace reveals the God who has never forgotten you in your long seasons nor abandoned you to them.
*Do you need some fresh air and some perspective? Join us for the virtual study on Spiritual Wilderness. Click here to register.