I used to have a blog called Wilderness Adventure. (I suppose I still have it; I just don’t update it anymore.) Its tagline was, “Abundant life in a world where I’m just passing through.”
The concept originated at a time when I had gotten so off track in my relationship with God, He literally had to remove everything comfortable and familiar in my life just to get my attention. But there, in that wilderness, He began to direct me oh-so-gently back to a right and undistracted view of Him. I remember reading in Hosea 2 at the time and identifying so much with the people of Israel, and the way God transformed the wilderness into vineyards. It called to mind beautiful pictures from Isaiah (my favorite Old Testament book, if you didn’t know):
“The wilderness and the wasteland shall be glad for them, and the desert shall rejoice and blossom as a rose; it shall blossom abundantly and rejoice … For waters shall burst forth in the wilderness, and streams in the desert. The parched ground shall become a pool, and the thirsty land springs of water” (Isaiah 35:1-2a, 6b-7a).
I was suddenly fascinated by the wilderness place I found myself in, because it held previously-unseen potential. God could do things with it, and if history was any indication, He would.
But, whatever God did there, I never expected to stay in the wilderness. And I certainly didn’t anticipate all of these obstacles and bumps in the road on the way to my micro-level promised land, or the incredible doubt that washes over when things don’t unfold, or the waiting. (That monotonous waiting, when I move at a snail’s pace, and life rushes past.)
I was reading Psalm 106 today for a Bible study I’m doing, and this particular psalm details Israel’s wilderness adventure, if you will. It’s not pretty, but as I said before, I get the people of Israel. I was particularly convicted reading verses 13-14:
But they soon forgot what He had done and did not wait for His plan to unfold. In the desert they gave in to their craving; in the wilderness they put God to the test. So He gave them what they asked for, but sent leanness to their souls.
That’s a sad commentary, isn’t it? But some days, especially lately, I am right there with them.
Wherever you stand on the Israel issue, I think we can all agree they’re not where God intended them to be. It seems to be their story.
I don’t want that to be my story.
I don’t want to be characterized by ingratitude, impatience, impulsiveness, and whining.
I don’t want to perpetually be in the wrong place at the wrong time.
So how do I stay focused in the wilderness? How can I be sure to be right where God wants me as His plan unfolds?
Deuteronomy 8 points the way to
living and increasing in and entering and possessing the land the Lord promised. First, I must remember God’s guidance, discipline, and provision. Second, I honor God’s care for me by walking in His ways. And finally, I praise God and acknowledge His hand in my life.
Practically, it’s moving from self-focus to God-focus.
I have a long way to go, but I am confident God intends more for me than wilderness living, even if it is a restored wilderness.