Have you ever felt like you’ve been wandering in the wilderness in your life? The Biblical picture was and is of God’s children wandering in the literal wilderness of the Sinai Peninsula and desert en route to the Promised Land; a trip that took them 40 years.
There are all kinds of wildernesses; the wilderness of the seemingly long-drawn-out passage of time in one’s life, the wilderness of vagueness and uncertainty of purpose, the wilderness of trial and difficulty experienced along the way, the wilderness of the humdrum, the day in and day out sameness, the wilderness of all kinds of needs and hungers and dreams and expectations, the wilderness of, well, you-fill-in-the-blank?
I certainly have wandered in my wildernesses and often find myself doing so: I certainly haven’t arrived. I was going through a bit of wilderness-wandering weariness last night, though not consciously so, when in my devotional reading I came upon the following beautiful passage of scripture, and was duly reminded of the fact:
And thou shalt remember all the way which the Lord thy God led thee these [many] years in the wilderness, to humble thee, and to prove thee, to know what was in thine heart, whether thou wouldest keep his commandments, or no. Deut. 8:2
And he humbled thee, and suffered thee to hunger, and fed thee with manna, which thou knewest not, neither did thy fathers know; that he might make thee know that man doth not live by bread only, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of the Lord doth man live. Deut. 8:3
The key, I think, is to ‘remember’, to make the effort to look up from either where you buried your face in the sand in some ostrich maneuver to take temporary refuge from life’s milieu, or where you perhaps stumbled face first into the sand through some weakness and couldn’t find the ‘umph’ and gumption necessary to raise yourself from your falling, to see past the sometimes blinding glare of the desert’s wilderness that saps and sometimes annihilates your vision, and leaves you feeling as if you’ve been proverbially wandering around in circles literally lost in the wilderness, and to remember from whence you came and to where you’re going and that this wandering is the passing process that’s getting your from whence to where.
What a comfort to know the Lord has a guiding hand in the wilderness of my wanderings; that he’s leading me, even though He’s at the same time humbling me, proving me, and helping me to learn to depend upon Him through it all. We’re all, really only able to sustain ourselves, to receive the inspiration and vision necessary to complete the journey through hearing and receiving His voice in His guiding words: When we do so, then it all comes back clear and complete, things make sense once more, and we realize again that we are indeed embarked upon a journey, and where we are in the course of that journey.
I find it interesting to note, that there is always this process, this dynamic with the Lord: of instruction, followed by obedience and proving, followed by fulfillment; this process of His giving His word, His instructions to us, his people; of our following, of our obedience to what He’s doing and showing and saying, of His fulfilling, whether it’s in the fulfilling of our ongoing, immediate needs (our various daily breads), or whether it’s a final fulfilling of His promises, of our entering into the Promised Land of ultimate personal fulfillment, whatever that Promised Land proves to be for each of us; most of all, I think, it’s the fulfilling of Himself to us.
He doesn’t make it easy, as much as we would like it to be that way. And we often; or at least I do, want, wish for, implore, and hope for more immediate results; the short sprint-to-the-finish scenario and dynamic, rather than the more-often-than-not, slow plodding; the much more long drawn out wilderness wandering process that’s at play.
It’s humbling, this wilderness wandering: likewise, it certainly wasn’t a cake-walk for God’s children of old. And we certainly don’t make it easy on ourselves either: God’s children of old could have entered immediately into the Promised Land but only proved that they didn’t have it in them to make it easy on themselves and had to do things the hard way, the long way. I often get that feeling that we are all pretty much the same in our modern-day, current wanderings, of not making it any easier on ourselves.
But, like He says of our faith, that He’s “the Author and Finisher of our faith”, so ‘wilderness wanderings’ is a story that has a beginning, middle, and ending. I pray to truly appreciate the journey, knowing it leads to the fulfilling of Himself to me, knowing that “man doth not live by bread only, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of the Lord doth man live.”
© Copyright 2012 John Hislop