This post is also from my Lenten read, One in a Million: Journey to Your Promised Land.
Anyone who knows the story of the Israelites’ freedom from slavery from Egypt and journey to the Promised Land knows that it wasn’t a straight journey. It was a journey made longer because the people wandered instead of staying focused on their goal. Isn’t that so like us? We have a goal. We know what it is. We feel in our bones and soul that it is the correct goal, and yet something shiny pulls us away from it, or we begin to think back to the old times, the past, and think it wasn’t so bad. Sure we were slaves, but there was food, and shelter, and a schedule.
The wilderness is where development occurs. We all have a wilderness experience. It is part of the human condition. According to this book, I’ve had at least three wilderness experiences. I’m assuming that means I didn’t get the message the first two times. But that’s okay, I’m determined. I’ll get it.
There is a piece in the book described as the Marah moment. If you know the story, you know that this is when the group came to the water they needed so desperately only to find it too bitter to drink. Haven’t we all had Marah moments in our lives? I have. There was something we were waiting on so desperately but when it came, it was bitter to us. The growth during your personal Marah moment is not that the thing you were hoping for was bitter instead of sweet; the growth is how you responded when you found it bitter. Did you lose hope and grumble against it. Did it cause you to grow a bitter heart? Or did you trust and wait for the sweetness that you knew would come?
I’ve done both. I’ve grumbled and fallen into the ‘why me’ trap. But I’ve also looked around and said, ‘this isn’t what I expected; hmmmm, I wonder what this experience will bring?’ And it is the second response that allows inner peace to stay with you, and allows you to continue to be of service to others. It’s hard to be of service to others when you are grumbling about your own experience. As the author reminds us,
“Don’t let a bitter moment create a bitter heart.”
“Psalms 61:2 states, ‘From the ends of the earth I call to you which translates into from the end of your rope, from the end of your strength, from the end of your longing, I call to you and hold you.’”
“When you are in between your miracles, walk in obedience. Just because God has gone silent is no reason for you to start making noise. Complaining will take you away from what God is doing for you. Even in the in between times, God is doing something. Don’t see these times as dead zones, see them as bridges.”
“When you find yourself in the wilderness, don’t go wandering. Stay close to God, and your time will be shorter.”
“When you find yourself in the wilderness, unpack; settle in; wait and listen. Even though it is a temporary place, get comfortable. Don’t sleep with your clothes on; chill, relax, and wait for God, the Giver, not just the gifts.”
When it comes time to leave the wilderness living behind, follow these 8 steps:
- Advance with courage
- Accept your post wherever it is
- Adopt a willingness to stand alone
- Act immediately
- Activate your faith
- Acknowledge God’s presence
- Anticipate God’s miracles
- Cross over to the other side
Cite: Shirer, P. (2010). ONE in a Million: Journey to Your Promised Land. Nashville, TN: B&H Publishing, Inc.