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I don’t much like the wilderness. Actually, I hate it. But I have to admit that’s where I’ve been lately. I miss my favorite part of ministry tremendously while I wait for the Lord to show me —show us— what’s next. Life’s at a stand still; at least it feels like it. I know from experience that sometimes I have to wait while He does His work elsewhere to get things ready. But knowing it’s so doesn’t seem to make it any easier.

Maybe you know that wilderness low too. It’s no fun. You feel alone out there. It’s barren. Isolated. There’s no one to turn to, no place to go. You look for words of encouragement, words of comfort and direction. But it feels like no one has the time, or if they do, they’re not all that interested.

Wilderness is an uninhabited place. There is nothing there, nobody there. Everything is one color. Feeling isolated, maybe forgotten about, we wander, wonder, ask questions, even doubt. We watch a tumbleweed roll by and wish WE had someplace to go. Pretty sad.

But the wilderness comes right before the fulfillment of the promises God makes to his children. There’s only one way to get to the other side, I guess, and that’s through it. We have to go through the wilderness to get to the other side. I hate that. Couldn’t God just sent a little helicopter out here and airlift us out of this waiting and wondering?

Abraham had to go through the wilderness when God told him to leave his country, his people, his father’s house, and head for the land God promised him. Maybe not, huh?

God chose Joseph to be a leader and save the nation from starvation in their homeland, but along the way Joseph was betrayed by a couple of his brothers, abandoned by the others and sold into slavery. Even living obedient in a foreign country, integrity intact, he experienced long delays in seeing God “come through for him”.

Elijah made an infuriating announcement one day and went into seclusion the next. His wilderness waiting lasted three years. I can’t imagine eating at the Road-Kill Cafe’ for months on end with ravens as my wait staff, but that’s who waited on Elijah. And he came through it.

David was the promised king of Israel but in his wilderness King Saul tried to kill him.

God promised Israel a land of their own but there was wilderness before the promise. Sometimes we are in the wilderness to help others get through it. Moses? Aaron? Joshua? Suit-up. No fun, but necessary.

Jesus, the promised Messiah, went through the wilderness so he could experience hunger and temptation as we do.

I guess I can count on some “wilderness” in my life from time to time can’t I? I’m not that special; I’m no exception. And deciding how much wilderness isn’t up to me.

Yesterday afternoon in the car a song came to mind. I learned it singing with the senior high youth group when I was in grade school. That’s one of the perks of being a PK -preacher’s kid- in a small church. You get to hang out with the big kids and go to their meetings long before you’re old enough. I don’t know where this little song’s been hiding in the hard-drive of my mind, but the Lord found it yesterday and I sang it out loud as I drove. (Yes the windows were up.)

My Lord knows the way through the wilderness. All I have to do is follow.

My Lord knows the way through the wilderness. All I have to do is follow.

Strength for today is mine all the way, and all I need for tomorrow.

My Lord knows the way through the wilderness. All I have to do is follow.

(© Sidney Cox, 1951. )

Jesus did say “I AM the way.” (John 14.6) Come to think of it, He knows the way out, AND the bus schedule.

So what do I have to whine about? Nothing really. He’s with me. He’s promised never to leave me and I believe He meant it. I still hate the wilderness. But since God’s with me I can relax. Feelings of abandonment dissipate fairly quickly when I stay where I can see Him. I know You’re here, Lord, so I’ll be fine. I just want to be with You.

“Praise the Lord, I tell myself, and forget not all His benefits…” (Psalm 103)

OK, I’m done whining now, Lord. I’ll follow. I’m sorry I made myself sick getting all worked up – over nothing. I’ll appropriate Your strength for today –for this season– however long it is. Thank You for supplying my needs; and I surrender my wants to You.

“All I have to do is follow.” Follow. Why’s that so hard sometimes?


—PLR—

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