Wilderness and Wonder

This morning’s devotional spoke so deeply into my situation. I am proud to say that I am getting back into the rhythm of a daily devotional and I feel so healthy. I don’t know why I’m so surprised when I find comfort in the Word. When I feel far from God it’s so easy for me to shut down, I forget to show up.

I’m currently using He Whispers Your Name by Cherie Hill as a way to organize my devotional reading. It pointed me to Mark 1:12 and I was reminded that the wilderness is guaranteed and the hope that comes from knowing Jesus has been there first.

This truth hit me so hard because I have been spiritually numb as I fill my days with to-dos and schedules, and appointments; I crawl into bed emotionally battered and remembering nothing. The next morning commute is filled with questions of “what am I doing with my life?” “Is this all I’ll amount too?” “I am nothing” “what does God want to do with my life?” but before I dwell on them too long I’ll blast the radio, and scroll through my social media accounts later, and fill my planner to drown out the internal interrogation. This numbness motivates me to do more, to be busier, to be more.

So I recently started working on showing up. I moved aside the vices that fight for my time with Jesus. I prayed honestly and gave the broken pieces of my life that feel unusable in his able and caring hands. The silence of the meaningless repetition was filled with prayers for those I interact with today. The morning’s of sleeping in were sacrificed for time with Papa God. The desire to go to people for comfort first was replaced with the discipline of seeking God first.

But creeping in through the night, discouragement, attack, and despair come in. The emotional battle is an unseen and under credited villain in the narrative of pursuing God. And we are warned, are we not? The Valley of the Shadow of Death will follow the mountain top experience. You thought the climb up was work? Prepare for the descent. You cannot stay on that mountain top forever, you are certainly not called to. We curse at the valley. The pains, the hardships, the mountain pales in worth and beauty the further into the valley we slump and set up camp.

Wilderness follows wonder. The wilderness attempts to kill at these moments of living and praise be to God for that. Praise be that we are so noticeably in pursuit of God and his ordained will that the valley is so incredibly dark and despairing. There would be no praise if we didn’t have hope in our side but we do. And we know we will be battle tested in the end. The snares of loneliness that bite, the isolation of a lone traveler, the burn of past sins and humiliations: the battered pursuer is a beautiful image of faithfulness to continuing to show up.

The wilderness will continue to follow wonder and I embrace it. I know that the trial and testing tell me I’m in pursuit of the right thing, Satan despises God’s people pursuing Him. And this wilderness is training me. As an explorer I know that the season of wilderness prepare me more than perfect conditions and seamless travels. And our Savior went through the wilderness as Mark 1:12 points out. Do I really believe that I am alone here? I can just picture Jesus knowing the emotions I am feeling and knowing it’s necessity and purpose. Yes Jesus is fully God but he came also as fully man and these emotions were experienced and designed by him. In this I find my hope.

I find myself currently in the wilderness and it’s taking all of me to not lay down in the valley. But oh what wonders I have seen and I have faith in the wonders to come. And how precious are the growing pains the bring forth such splendor. I keep showing up for the wonders and wilderness and praise that growing pains accompany mountain top experiences.

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