An Unexpected Wilderness - by Meg Saunders
Dry. Barren. Arid. Scarce. Alone. Isolated. Perhaps these descriptors are the way you might imagine an unexpected, extended time the wilderness to look and feel. For me, there is no doubt this is exactly how I thought of such an experience.
Spiritually speaking, it seems when we find ourselves in a place that appears wilderness-like, we have a couple of choices, especially with regard to our hearts. We can either continue to offer them to God in trust and dependence, and, therefore, flourish despite our circumstances. Or we can do what I chose, which was to go inward and thus create a distance between myself and God, in essence watching (and feeling) my heart constrict and shrink.
Thankfully, even when we choose what I did in the pain and confusion that wilderness can produce, God is not constricted or diminished. He is still God, and He still speaks. He cares about our hearts.
Perhaps as unexpected as the wilderness was to me, I also experienced something beautiful and surprising — the way God spoke into my life through His Word, in dreams, and sometimes with direct messages. These ways all drew me back to Him and softened my heart.
Following is an excerpt from a message I received from Him on Ash Wednesday, 13 February 2013:
I AM not absent or inactive Meg. I AM with you intimately, completely integrated with you. I love you preciously and dearly, dear daughter. Continue seeking Me with ALL of your heart. Don’t withhold your heart from Me no matter how vulnerable you feel. I will not exploit you, run over or reject you. I will not abuse your heart, precious one.
I know you feel like you are holding on for dear life — and in some ways you are right now. But it will not be like this forever. I AM doing a work in you. Continue seeking Me, continue asking, continue knocking. Do not be afraid. Be confident in who I AM. Sit with Me; continue to talk to Me; continue to be with Me.
This message was accompanied by a personalized passage of Scripture:
I have chosen you, Meg, and have not cast you away:
Fear not, for I am with you;
Be not dismayed for I am your God.
I will strengthen you,
Yes, I will help you.
I will uphold you with My righteous right hand. (Isaiah 41:9b-10, NKJV).
As I recently experienced, the wilderness is not easy to endure. It is, also, thankfully, not forever. In it, there is a temptation for shrinkage, to disassociate our heart from ourselves and God. But let’s hold on. Let’s continue seeking Him; let’s continue talking with Him; let’s continue being with Him . . . even when we find ourselves in an unexpected place called wilderness.