Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Through the Wilderness

I have not arrived.

The voices that teased me in college for choosing a major I liked (English) seem to have been proven right.  Though I'm not asking "do you want fries with that" as many suggested I might be, I am answering a phone rather than counseling someone who is hurting, writing orientation letters instead of publishing books and articles, and scanning paperwork rather than signing autographs.  

I am well behind most of my friends who are beginning on their second kids with their husbands and find myself asking every so often if there is something wrong with me.  One of my favorite jokes is that at this point it will take a miracle tantamount to the virgin birth to get me married as the task seems all but insurmountable due to my sinful idealism and general fear of that sort of relationship.

Most of my friends have moved away or are getting ready to move away to ridiculous places like Midland.

I have been turned down for my dream job too many times to count.

I have sins that I just can't seem to master.

This is certainly not my best life now.

I am in the wilderness, or at least that's what it feels like, and sometimes this makes me question my salvation.  Surely if I was a child of God things would be going better.  Surely I would be much holier by now and have taken my place among the ranks of my supermom friends.  Surely the drab day to day trudge isn't the sort of trouble Jesus promised in John 16:33…it can't be, it's not dramatic enough!  Surely the trouble He was talking about was limited to outright persecution, torture, death for the sake of the kingdom.  Surely.

I wonder if the Israelites ever had thoughts such as this when God was leading them through the wilderness; if they asked themselves, each other, Moses why the Lord had rescued them just to hike around "through a land of deserts and of pits, through a land of drought and of deep darkness, through a land that no one crossed and where no man dwelt" (Jeremiah 2:6).  Their trek could not have been exciting in the day to day, though it certainly must have been uncomfortable.  Sand in the morning, sand in the afternoon, sand in the evening…no apparent source of water, no civilization, blistering sun…Yet they had the promise to look forward to, the guarantee of the God of their forefather Abraham to guide them, and He had proved Himself faithful time and again.

Reading Jeremiah 2 this evening made me check my prosperity gospel thinking.  Like Israel we - the Church - have been rescued from slavery; like Israel we look forward to the promised land, the hope of things to come; and like Israel we are still being lead through the wilderness by our good and faithful Shepherd.  To assume things would be comfortable, easy, even exciting is to misunderstand how God works.  Sometimes it's the constant sand that buffs away that which sin has left behind.  I think following in faith can sometimes be the hardest when things are just plain bland and disappointing, so I'm thankful for the reminders in scripture that God walked with His people through a dry and dusty place.  

Do you ever find yourself in the midst of the wilderness?  Let us encourage each other on this journey, for God gave us the body for a reason.    

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