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Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Wilderness People

“Therefore I am now going to allure her; I will lead her into the wilderness and speak tenderly to her.” Hosea 2:12

Hiking is one of the many things I love about Southern California. I can do it everyday and there are several places I can explore. Hiking is one of my favorite ways to connect with God; exploring His creative work, quieting my heart and listening to His voice.

This evening, I went on a short 3.5 mile hike at one of the local parks where I do a majority of my hiking. Most days last week were over 90 degrees, and I can’t remember the last time it rained. The hills are brown again, and there isn’t much green to be seen. The trails are rocky and dusty. It isn’t very pretty to most, in fact some days it makes me miss the green forests of Michigan. But it always reminds me that God’s people were wilderness people.

The wilderness, or desert, is a land of “just enough.” There is just enough water and rain for the vegetation to survive. There is just enough vegetation for sheep and goats to graze. There is just enough shade to provide an overheated shepherd relief from the hot sun.

And because there is just enough and not too much, there is plenty of room to trust. There is plenty of room to trust you’ll have just enough food to survive the day. Plenty of room to trust you’ll have just enough water to survive the day. Plenty of room to trust you will have exactly what you need, exactly when you need it. It is not what I would consider comfortable, but it is exactly where I want to live my life.

This evening I decided to hike my regular route backwards. I did this mostly because it would be a harder climb and I need to step up my workouts in preparation for our Israel trip, but I also like the different perspective it gives me. As I made my way up the final climb to the bluff, I was reminded of one of the hardest moments in my life, my battle with depression.

During that time I was convinced the wilderness I was in was not a land of just enough but a land of no where near enough. Not enough of God’s grace to handle my weaknesses. Not enough of God’s love to love someone like me. Not enough second chances to try again after I messed up. Not enough reasons for me to even be alive. It was a very dark time. It was the book of Hosea and the Psalms where I found any glimmer of hope. If Hosea could marry a prostitute and still follow God each day and rest in His love, surely I could handle another day. If David could tell God how broken and sad he was and write about it, surely I could tell God too.

Hosea 2:12 was one of the verses I clung to during those years. My life felt like that toughest, driest desert to ever exist, but it was in the desert that God spoke to His people. Most days it felt like He wasn’t speaking or listening at all. There were brief moments where I heard His voice. Brief moments where I knew He was there with me. Those moments sustained me. Those moments healed me.

Now I make it a habit to go to the literal wilderness to remind myself of what God has done. To remind myself that just enough is more than enough. To remind myself God is present. I sit in the wilderness to listen to His tender voice. 

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