Life in the Wilderness
September 29, 2010 § 2 Comments
Perhaps the question I am most often asked (other than, ‘What is God’s will for my life?’), is related to what would best be described as ‘wilderness experiences.’ Whenever people are confused by life it is as though they are wandering in a wilderness, with no answers and no end in sight.
We tend to think in such ‘black-and-white’ terms, where it is easy to categorize every experience, but in these particular times we can’t explain them away. A season of discouragement descends on us – and we didn’t see it coming. A time of spiritual dryness overtakes us when we thought we were thriving in faith. There are times in every Christ-follower’s life, when it should be joyful, but it is not.
And what people want to know when they call or come by can be expressed in one word: Why? Why would God allow this, ‘out of nowhere’ experience? Why can’t I shake this dark season in my life? Why do I feel so unalive?
But there are no concrete, one-sentence answers. There is no routine that will enable us to elude them either – they are indiscriminating among those of us that are unfinished.
Having recently emerged from such a season let me offer some thoughts…
For one thing, I am reminded that much of what I offer to God has little to do with what He really wants from me. He wants me. And every instinct tells me to not believe that, but to not believe it is to reject what is most sweet about the Gospel – that God likes me without my help.
And I’ve learned that He rarely offers answers because He prefers to give Himself – and Asaph, in the midst of his own wilderness experience, rediscovered this in his assertion, “Whom have I in heaven but you?” (Psalm 73:25). In his book, Leap Over A Wall, Eugene Peterson recounts that whenever David fled to the wilderness from whatever enemy was pursuing him, it always turned out that he was running to God, only he didn’t realize it at the moment.
Finally, perhaps C.S. Lewis put it best when he wrote (The Problem of Pain): “Our Father refreshes us on the journey with some pleasant inns, but will not encourage us to mistake them from home.” Sometimes it just isn’t until I am driven into the wilderness that I am reminded of something that life and pleasure and comfort often obscure me from, that being that we live in a broken world that will never ‘work’ perfectly until heaven and earth become one in God’s new world when Jesus comes and renews all things. And He will.
Indeed, this is Good News.