In the Wilderness

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I sat down to write this post with a specific topic in mind…Its been forming in my mind for about a month now, but as I started to type it just didn’t feel right. The truth is, I have a lot of things and lessons going on in my life right now that I need to get out. So, I gave this one to the Lord. It’s His post. Whatever is supposed to come out will. I’m just the vessel. So here goes…

Last October my friend and I went hiking in the Blue Ridge Mountains. Just a side-note: I feel so stinkin’ lucky to live only 1.5 hours away from such beauty ❤ It’s my home away from home. Anyway, we went to a 5 mile trail that I had only hiked once (with the husband a few months prior) and it was so beautiful and such a hidden treasure that I wanted to take my best friend there for a day trip. It’s the sort of trail that starts out kind of “meh”, running through a campground and along a road…but then you go through a tunnel of trees and you step out into this beautiful, open field. When my husband and I went, the flowers were blooming in the field and it was the prettiest, most natural thing I’d ever come across. Untouched by human hands. No trash to be found anywhere. It’s the type of sight that stops you in your tracks, your heart makes you stand there and take it in.

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The rest of the trail winds alongside a beautiful river. There are a lot of side trails that take you down to the water to climb the rocks and wade in the shallow ends. It’s so peaceful.

So my friend and I began hiking the trail, talking of God and the things going on in our lives. We come to the meadow (the flowers are no longer there but it is still just as beautiful) and take a side-trail up to the top of a hill to take in the view. On the way back down I noticed two trail heads…something that didn’t register with me last time. I stood thinking out loud about which one to take, eventually deciding on the one that my brain had me believe was the most familiar. My friend and I hiked another mile, and it wasn’t until we found ourselves walking along an actual highway that I realized I had chosen the wrong path. We were exhausted at this point and super hungry. I had taken us a mile out of the way, which added two extra miles to our hike!

On the way back, walking in silence, wanting to get back to the actual trail…the Lord said to me: “How often my children do this.”

Not a question, but a statement.

God wasn’t referring to His children getting lost in the woods…but His children leaving Him standing on the right path to take their own, “better” path. I imagine it as being hand-in-hand with the Lord while scaling a mountain. It is a rough hike, but you have the best guide. You are laughing and the hike doesn’t seem so hard because of who you are with. You know where you going because…again, you have the best Guide.

But then we see a different path branching off of the right one. It is deceiving and enticing. It may have beautiful flowers and the right path doesn’t. It may have tall cedars while the right path has only small shrubbery. You think that way is more beautiful…surely it’s a better path, so why not take it? You let go of the Lord’s hand and leave him standing at the trail marker….where He waits for you to come back to Him so you can keep going, so you keep climbing the mountain together.

While he waits, you go on your own way. You try to figure out the path for yourself, but you aren’t getting anywhere. And though you couldn’t see them before you chose this new path, there are thorns on the flowers, and the tall cedars make you feel claustrophobic. Eventually you realize you’d rather be with Him, hiking the not-so-beautiful mountain. You miss holding His hand and the warmth of His heart that is so contagious.

So you go back to Him. And He is right where you left Him, waiting with an embrace and a smile. You open your mouth to tell Him about your adventure, and how you are sorry for trying your own path…but He stops you. Because not only does the Lord wait for us when we stray from Him, but He goes before us into those situations. He makes sure that the thorns don’t cut too deep and that the cedars aren’t so tall that they become the only thing you can see when you look up. He makes sure that we don’t get so lost in our own wilderness that we forget about Him and the path we were on before.

I also believe that a person can come out of the wilderness but not realize it because of the scales on their eyes-  the cloudiness of their vision. If you have been wondering in the wilderness for a long time, your “eyes” (<–the soul) may be so used to the dark that even small blades of grass will look like huge trees blocking your way.

The Lord waits for us. He saves us. He goes before us into the hell we have created and protects us from destroying our eyes with darkness. He calls us out of the wilderness after letting us try our own way for some time. 

On the way back to the trail, I began to think of all the times I stepped out into my own wilderness and how the Lord was with me each and every time. Even before I believed in Him! Even when I was denouncing His Great Name to my mother over lunch!

He was there when I was 20 and trying to get pregnant with my drug-addicted boyfriend.

He was there when I didn’t have a place to live, and was hopping from hotel to hotel…eventually living out of my car for a couple of days.

He was there when my sister’s friends asked me to do drugs at one of her parties.

He was there when I was working double shifts as a waitress just to pay for a class at community college.

He was there when my dad stopped showing an interest in my and my siblings life.

He was there when I was tearing my moms house upside-down looking for change just so I could get a snack and a soda.

He was there when I was engrossed in atheism books and telling everyone “I don’t believe in God.”.

He. was. there. And He is present in anything that you may be going through now. You know what I find comfort in? The fact that nothing surprises God. Nothing. None of the situations or heartache that we have faced or will ever face is going to surprise Him. He’s already in it, fighting for us. It’s not like He says “Oh man, so-and-so lost their job. What am I going to do now? I didn’t prepare for this.” Um, no! And that’s not to say that God wants us to go through hard times or pain, but we live in a fallen world and it’s part of the package. But He fights for us. None of the battles we face are ours, they are His to fight. Let’s let Him do His job.

He is with you…waiting for you…calling you out of your wilderness…go back to Him. You are loved.

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