Have you ever watched someone you love go through a wilderness experience of the heart?
Maybe you are the one going through the wilderness. Maybe you feel lost and alone. You have convinced yourself that no one understands your unique situation.
I know what its like. I know how it feels to be completely alone in your journey with people on every side telling you how to behave or what you should think. They might even tell you what book you should read to get well. (They assume you are sick if you are wandering.)
They really do mean well. They love you and it pains them to see your pain. They want to fix the you that is hurting; they want to help you see a better way, to bring you hope, and to help you out of your obvious darkness. All they want is to give you guidance.
During my times of wandering, it seems that God always takes me back to revisit the Children of Israel. They too wandered. They even had a guide by day and night and they still wandered. They cried and whined about their circumstances. They were exhausted beyond what they thought they could bear. They needed food and water sometimes and felt frantic about their next meal.
Their unbelief got them into so much trouble and they would not learn that FAITH in God was the thing that would bring them through. They forgot the miracles that God did for them daily, like parting the sea, and providing manna and quail and water. Not to mention the pillar of cloud by day and the one of fire by night.
They had so many daily tangible miracles they could see and touch but they didn't let themselves believe they were ever going to get out of that wilderness. They probably felt they had passed that particular scrubby bush a thousand times and that they were only walking in circles. And for what?
I remember my own particular scrubby bushes, metaphorically speaking. I really started to hate the approaching predictable cycle of not learning a lesson and having to go crawling back on all fours to that spot where I had tied a marker. I remember thinking the Children of Israel wandered 40 years till they reached Canaan, and that was only those who believed and kept believing.
Abraham's faith without wavering was also an inspiration to me. It was the kind of faith that God liked. If God had given me a clear path, a journey, then He also would provide the things needed to get from Point A to Point B. In the meantime, all that wandering was giving me pretty good practice on my faith. Whom did I believe more? God or my present circumstances.
Faith that God was in my present circumstances, in all my wanderings, wasn't an easy thing. My present circumstances were too strewn with debris of questions and doubting. I simply could not see God in all that mess.
Until I started being thankful. I'm sure I went about it all wrong, it was more determination than a heartfelt thank you. Sometimes it was gritting my teeth to not complain and in the same moment of gritting my teeth I could spit out a thank you for the thing that was in my day, often the very thing I was going to whine and complain about. I believe that is called the sacrifice of praise.
Give us this day our daily bread. Sometimes the bread we get isn't the bread we asked for. We wanted the kind with fluff and lightness and goodness. No one wants to say thank you for conflict and unresolved relational issues. Yet, complaining and whining and self pity are sin in God's eyes.
And being a school teacher and a mom I am beginning to understand why. There is nothing more disheartening than when after I make my plans for the kids, they set up complaints. I am not God and this makes me mad.
Imagine being God and we, His children, dare to think we have a better idea. We don't know anything about what God has in store for us if we remain calm and thankful and secure in Him.
That is the kind of faith He is looking for. With that kind of faith you WILL get through the deserts of life.