I’ve been in a dark place.
Seeing those words in black and white makes my stomach churn with the memories of pain and with the freedom of admittance.
My husband calls it the Wilderness Time.
When you’re dragging your feet through miles of sand, existing on whatever manna and quail is provided for the day. There’s no extra to store up, and no hope for an end of wandering.
When your soul is just tired, and you’re thankful for any scraps of Scripture that fall onto your lap. When you have been working and striving and doing, and you still seem to fall short.
The desert stretching before you is so vast, there’s not even a glimpse of the Promised Land.
When you think if you just walk faster, you’ll get there sooner. Or if you gather extra food now, tomorrow will be easier.
We all want so desperately to stand at the magnificent gate of the Promised Land.
The wilderness makes us so weary.
But as I dwell on the thoughts of the Israelites and their time in the wilderness, there was a reason they were taken there in the first place.
The God of their fathers needed to make Himself KNOWN again. And His people needed to remember how to exist underneath His merciful hand.
Thousands of years later, I’m no different from those who crossed the Red Sea on dry ground.
I’ve seen the power of my Savior and King. I’ve tasted His riches, and I’ve witnessed His grace.
But I forget.
I begin to default to my personal realm of control. I rely on my knowledge and my abilities.
And then I begin to believe the lies that spill from the lips of my own authority.
That I can work to earn His grace.
That success comes from my hard work.
That I am worthy of a following.
And just like the Israelites, these lies have kept me stuck in the wilderness until I could look up and see the Father who was begging to save me from my striving.
His grace is there whether I deserve it or not.
His mercy is what allows for my success.
His name alone is worthy of a following.
He leads me, knowingly, gently through the wilderness, leaving me there as long as it takes for me to hit my knees with the words Holy, Holy, Holy, are YOU alone, God Almighty.
Even if I run, I can’t find my way to those gates.
Even if I store up manna, tomorrow it will ruin.
Because what God desires in these times, more than anything, is to teach me how to rely on the provision He has set apart for the day. The single, solitary day.
The gates are where He does His work through us, but the wilderness is where He does His work in us.
It’s been a year of wandering. Of aimless striving. Of defining myself by things and ideas instead of by the One who bought me with His blood.
I’ve begged to know my life’s calling and desired to mean something in the Kingdom.
And as ashamed as I am to speak these words, I am so grateful I get to flesh this out.
Because He really has done a work in me, and this is the beauty of what the wilderness does. My face is worn from the sun and my feet are sore from the walking.
But when the brokenness of my body is masked by the energy of my Spirit, this is the evidence of a successful journey…a journey that is ending for a season.
Now I stand between the wilderness and the gates of the Promised Land, looking back at His provision and yet so eager to taste His glory.
I stand in the middle of the Jordan, where He performs the exact same miracle in this water as He did when I entered into the desert. I’m standing on dry ground, in awe of the Creator and Sustainer of life.
Just as Joshua told his people, Consecrate yourselves, for tomorrow the Lord will do wonders among you, I hear His promise now.
And I’ve never been more ready to witness those wonders.
A friend prayed this week, Lord, forgive us when we are distracted by our success or discouraged by our failures. Give us exactly what we need to keep up in the balance of your perfect grace.
And I say Amen. May He have His way with me…that I may dwell within the realm of meager provision and enormous riches. May He keep me from too much of either, so that I may remember that my place is in a posture of utter dependence and absolute worship.
For there, in the wilderness, I learned how to rely on nothing but the promises of enough for today. And even enough was more than I could ever need.