In March, I spoke at a women’s conference about finding God in unexpected journeys.
I talked about the Israelites as they left Egypt (when a season isn’t the good you expected), wandered in the wilderness (when God makes you wait and you don’t know why), and experienced the promised land (when life is just the way you want it to be).
Last fall, when I was writing these talks, I was living in a pretty good season. I resonated with the promised land experience.
And then God invited me back into the wilderness.
Suddenly, I need to listen to my own words.
Finding Myself in the Wilderness
I warned the retreat attendees about this: our real promised land is ahead. God doesn’t leave us long in those seasons. He has more for us to learn. Hence, the journey back into the wild.
See, for most of 2019 so far, I’ve experienced bouts of dizziness and headaches that at times have been debilitating. At the least, they are rarely completely gone (thanks for nothing, new year).
Finally, after an MRI (thankfully clear) and a trip to the neurologist, I was diagnosed with basilar migraines, a diagnosis that still leaves me skeptical, but at least gives me some direction.
It’s been a strange season to walk through. It’s hard not knowing how I will feel from day to day, how long it will last. I’ve wondered what He is doing, what He wants to teach me through this.
Like the Israelites, once I realized I was back in the wilderness, I started asking God for the shortest way out. Sure, You can teach me something, but could you make it fast? And easy?
It’s hard to be in a place where we realize we aren’t the ones in control. The wilderness is tiring, humbling, and at times confusing. A friend of mine put it recently, “God has you in a fog.” Indeed.
I don’t know about you, but I can’t see well in the fog. Yet as I said at the retreat (curse my words coming back to haunt me!) we can find God in the wilderness, no matter how foggy it is.
Better yet, He can see through the fog. He knows the way out of this wilderness.
So I’m looking for God in all of this.
And I’m finding Him.
Finding God in the Wilderness
He is using this season to slow me down even more (I swear pretty soon I’ll be going backward). As much as I hate doing less, He reassures me that it doesn’t diminish me.
Prayers I have prayed are being answered through this (be careful what you pray for!).
In my hardest moments, I have heard His voice speak tenderly and consistently to me words of comfort and invitation. He has felt closer than ever.
Friends have stepped in and wrapped my weakness, fears, and grief with love and care, and in the process taught me more how to let others care for me (a much needed and on-going lesson).
In a sweet moment, our daughter asked me, “What would you do if this was happening to me?” It invited me to consider how to extend compassion, kindness, tenderness, and patience to myself as I would want to give to others.
Finding He Is Enough
I believe it’s in the wilderness where God tries us to see what we really want. Do we want Him? Or do we just want what He gives us?
Will we sit in this desert place long enough to experience His sufficiency, regardless of our circumstances?
This has been a hard season, yes. At my lowest times, I beg God to just make it better. I decide I don’t want the lessons I know He wants to give me.
But God is with us in the wilderness. He meets us in the middle of it to show us more of Him, to transform us, to shake us loose from the trappings that hold us.
He uses these places to bring us to our knees. They humble us to receive from Him and others what we’ve wanted all along but have been too proud and self-sufficient to cry out for.
So I’ve tried to sit patiently in this. Keep my eyes focused on Him. Giving thanks for the good I see, trusting Him for the things I cannot see.
It’s easier to have peace on the days when I feel better. But I want peace no matter what. God keeps bringing to mind Psalm 131:2, “But I have calmed and quieted myself, I am like a weaned child with its mother; like a weaned child I am content.”
God grant us that kind of trust in the wilderness. Calm and quiet souls who wait on Him.
I know it won’t last forever. God will lead me out eventually.
Maybe you’re in a wilderness too. He will lead you out as well.
So let’s stay close to Him. Let’s trust. Know that He is with us. He will do good to us in this place.