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Thursday, September 16, 2010

In the Wilderness

Personal Note: The past week has been difficult for me. I received several rejections for manuscripts I had submitted after pouring months into research, then months into writing them. I'm not sure why they hit me so hard this time; I thought I was accustomed to the rejections after six years of receiving them. But this time--this time they came close to devastating me. So, I did the only thing I know to do in times of distress. I ran to the Lord and threw my heart at His feet. I begged Him to give me some kind of confirmation (again) that He has called me to write and that I should continue investing time, effort and money into it.

His answer came in several ways

Sunday my pastor preached a poignant sermon on a topic I have never (in 17 1/2 years) heard him preach on--"Don't Quit!"

Since Sunday I've read a barrage of blog posts on--you guessed it--not quitting.

Today I opened Windows of the Soul: Experiencing God in New Ways by Ken Gire (from pages 101-105). Before I turned any pages I asked God to show me which passage to quote here. He did and more. He drove my eyes, my mind and my heart to a lengthy passage about surviving and thriving in a dry place, a wilderness, as part of God's plan for molding me into the person He wants me to become.

I hope this passage is an answer to prayer for you, too, Dear Reader.

As physical hunger intensifies with the absence of food, so spiritual hunger intensifies with the absence of God. That is why the wilderness plays such an important role in our lives, as it did in the lives of Moses, David, Elijah, Job. The wilderness is where we experience prolonged periods of God's absence. For me, that was Poolville. For you, it may be Los Angeles or Odessa, General Motors or graduate school. For me, it was a crisis brought on by a change of careers. For you, it may be a crisis brought on by cancer or divorce or some other struggle.

Whatever the wilderness, wherever the wilderness, it is in that wilderness where we learn that we do not live by bread alone but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God, that His word is not only the most natural food for our soul but the most necessary.

I will never forget how hungry I was for some word from Him to let me know that He saw me stranded there in Poolville, that He heard my prayers, and most of all, that He cared...

...The wilderness was a place of pain, of humiliation, of uncertainty, of loneliness and desperation. All of which were necessary for me to experience if I was to be the writer I needed to be, wanted to be, prayed to be...

Seminary prepared me to use my gift. The wilderness prepared me to live my life. And it will prepare you to live yours. But your wilderness will be different from mine. And the windows you will be shown will be different from the ones shown to me. The education of the wilderness is not standardized, like seminary. It is individualized, for you and you alone as it was for me and me alone...

...The wilderness was my thesis. It was where I had to prove to myself who God really is...

And out of it came the message of my life, or at least, the beginnings of it. And now I am able to know from my own life--not somebody else's--who God really is.

Jean says:

We humans are such stupid creatures, Lord. Dumber than sheep by far. At least, THIS human is. I am so slow to learn from You and about You. You have proven Yourself to me so many, many times. Yet I still find myself cowering in a cave, bleating helplessly and, sometimes, hopelessly.

I'm so glad You are my Good Shepherd.

God says:

Come here, Little One. You're weary. You're stressed. You're feeling lost in a great big wilderness.

Stop trying to find your own way. Come here and let me carry You through this wilderness to the other side.

Joy is waiting for you there.