Therefore I am now going to allure her; I will lead her into the wilderness and speak tenderly to her. There I will give her back her vineyards, and will make the valley of trouble a door of hope.
Our wilderness within our lives are places God has yet to heal. They are places behind our walls where we have pain, brokeness or a mess that God is looking to enter. God longs for us to invite Him into these places so He can speak tenderly and gently to us and show His love for us.
Why should we bother to name and invite God into our wilderness?
God does not save us from our sins to leave us in them. Rather, He desires our healing and growth. This is the call of the Christian walk; to allow God to be Lord and Savior of all of us and all the parts of our lives. Lent gives us an opportunity to name and invite God into our wilderness and to answer the Spirit’s call to go deeper in our healing and in our growth. When we do this we find ways that lead to freedom and becoming more like Jesus.
How do we determine our wilderness?
Our own places of wilderness are ones where we find it hard to engage with for too long, we either want to control them or we want to escape them. They are places of no clear path, disorientation, painful places, places that lack peace and the fruit of the Spirit, places where we have no self-control, places of apathy, and places that lack hope.
Some examples of personal wilderness could include a broken relationship, sickness, death of a loved one, grief, unforgiveness, fear of man, past trauma or abuse, anxiety, hatred, apathy, impatience, harshness, bitterness, immoral acts, lack of control, lack of trust.
Most of us will have many wildernesses in our lives. Do not rush over choosing which one to enter this season of Lent with God. Ask Him to highlight where He would like to be invited to enter.
Why should we bother to name and invite God into the wilderness of those around us?
The wildernesses of those around us are ones where God has yet to heal and may be areas that God is inviting us to walk in with others. God often uses the words and circumstances where we have received His comfort to comfort others. Jesus was a man of many sorrows and He is inviting us to share in the sorrows and sufferings that others are experiencing in their wilderness. This is the call of a Christian to walk the footsteps of Jesus Who did not shy away from suffering and sorrow but was present in it and offered hope.
How do we determine the wildernesses around us that God might be inviting us to walk in?
Places of sorrow and suffering around us can invoke different responses in us. They can challenge our sense of safety, goodness in the world and belief in God being good. They can also trigger our own suffering and past trauma and hurt. They can cause us to want to shut off any emotion we have and put walls around ourselves to feel protected. The frailness and vulnerability of others can cause us to be faced with our own frailty and vulnerability.
Examples of wilderness around us might be addiction, homelessness, sickness, grief, mental illness, fits of rage, consumerism, self destructive behavior, politcal corruption, poverty, natural disasters.
Invitations for the week:
- When you are faced with your wilderness this week, resist the urge to keep God out of it.
- Each time you are faced with this wilderness see it as a call to prayer and invite God into that time and space.
- Confide in someone you trust this week about your wilderness and ask them to keep you accountable to turning towards God in it this week. Ask them to pray for you and ask them what their own wilderness is and how you can hold them accountable and pray for them.
Prayer for the week: Psalm 32
Further Study: Gen. 2:15-17; 3:1-7; Romans 5:12-19, Matthew 4:1-11
Written by Bethany Roan ©
Image by Bethany Roan ©
Stress…which causes anxiety in me and sometimes pours out in a bad attitude towards my husband. This has been obvious for a long time, so my current wilderness was easy to identify. So often when life would throw me a curve ball, I would panic and ask many Christians to pray for me. I am learning to quiet myself and sit with Jesus. Sharing my heart comes easy and I know I need my church family to help me through the valleys, but, though my prayer closet is currently stuffed as we hope to sell our condo…there is lots of space on the carpet to get on my face.