Thursday, June 30, 2016
Wilderness People (Repost)
“Therefore I am now going to allure her; I will lead her into the wilderness and speak tenderly to her.” Hosea 2:12
In July of 2014, I had the opportunity to travel to Israel and Turkey on a study trip with some of the staff and students from Impact Campus Ministry. In a few weeks, another group will be going and I really wish I was joining them. After some recent conversations about the trip, I started re-reading my journals and blog posts from around the trip. I found a blog post that challenged me and I thought I would update it a little and share it with you.
Hiking is one of my favorite ways to connect with God; exploring His creative work, quieting my heart and listening to His voice. I spent a ton of time hiking when I lived in California even though there was a horrible draught the entire time I was there. The hills were always brown, and there was never much green to be seen. The trails were rocky and dusty. It wasn’t very pretty to most, in fact some days it made me miss the green forests of Michigan. But it always reminded 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.
One evening I decided to hike my regular route backwards. I do this sometimes just to have a more difficult hike and sometimes I just like the different perspective it gives me. That evening as I made my way up the final climb to the bluff, I was reminded of one of my wilderness moments and 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 in 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 the 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.
When the snow arrived this last winter, I did everything to avoid the outdoors. It was far too cold. However, I haven’t returned to my practice of heading to the wilderness to be still and listen. This post reminded me of how critical that is for me. Where do you hear God speak to you? Have you gone there to be still and listen? Make some time this month to create space for the Lord to speak to you.