The wilderness...an area that most humans don't choose to go to. It's wild. It's uncomfortable. Pain and suffering are far too well known there. Dry. Empty. Threatening.
And yet God has chosen to have me walk there.
Why? Because some things can only be learned in the wilderness.
It is only in the wilderness, when I am completely parched and have no other hope, that I learn how deeply Christ can quench my thirst Before the wilderness, a carbonated, sugary soda felt good on a hot day. A chat with a friend, a nice quote on facebook, a hug from my husband. Now, I'm desperately thirsty and Christ's fountains are full of living water that is beautiful, deep, clear and life-giving. Nothing else will do. It's a matter of life and death every morning when I wake up. God's word. Study. Pray. Memorize. Read. Pray more. Meditate. Life or death. It must get deep into my heart. There is no other way to live through this moment, let alone this day. The fountain of Christ, full of living water, is the only hope I have.
It is only in the wilderness when I see my weakness and utter incapability to survive, that I learn of his strength and his willingness to carry me. I cannot walk this road alone and in my own strength. The pain is too deep. The temptation to bitterness is too strong. When the waves of sorrow overwhelm me, I cry again to my older brother, "Save me! Rescue me from this pain, lest it drown me." And time after time after time, I feel his strong arms grab my heart and pull me to safety.
It is only in the wilderness that I can eat his heavenly food and I finally learn that I can be satisfied with manna. The meat and cucumbers of Egypt have had such a strong grip on me. Before the wilderness, the fine cuisine of my previous life drove my attitudes and actions. It determined my level of happiness for the day. Now my unhelpful cravings are dying down and are no longer having dominion over me. I see God's faithful provision every day, one day at a time. I see his care for me. I put the manna to my lips and I taste the steadfast love of God.
It is only in the wilderness that my faith stops depending on God answering all my prayers as I think he should and instead I start to lean on the character of God, his power, his sovereignty, his love. One of the spiritual jolts that I experienced as I entered the wilderness, was seeing how many prayers for my family were not answered the way I wanted them. I had been praying so faithfully and fervently for the one that I loved so deeply. My faith wobbled as I poured tears over my prayer journal. But in the wilderness, I have learned to look to the character of God, who he is, how he is working all things for my good, how he is still on the throne of the universe, he is still in control and he still loves me. He is a faithful God. When all around my soul gives way, He then is all my hope and stay.
The wilderness is still hot, hard and not a place I would have wanted to go. But I'm learning that under the rocks, there is life. In the hidden crevices, there is beauty. In the wasteland, there is strength.
And if walking into the wilderness means that I find more of Christ, then God, give me the grace to run.