Lost in the Wilderness?

 

Hosea 2:14    “Therefore, behold, I will allure her, and bring her into the wilderness, and speak tenderly to her.”

I can’t even count how many seasons of the last six years I have been completely lost in the wilderness. Although I didn’t recognize it for what it was at the time, I can finally understand the purpose of these brief periods.

It was the end of 2012 when I first recognized the passion I have for writing about Scripture and how it could be applied towards daily living. I was at a huge intersection in life and the traffic was getting busier by the second it seemed. I was making decisions that have played a significant part in the man I am today and the journey that still continues. Before I get too far off track, I want to talk a little more about finding yourself lost in the wilderness.

It’s not very difficult to get so wrapped up in the world we live in today that we lose track of our focus and priorities. Anytime you add a spouse or children to the picture, things naturally become even more hectic from time to time. I have struggled more than I care to admit, trying to reach a destination I thought I wanted.

Sometimes it seems like the busier life gets, the more significant areas of our lives end up suffering the most. We allow ourselves to get in such a hurry heading towards where we are wanting to go that we somehow forget all the places we have been. Lessons we have been forced to learn are slowly forgotten, people who have played a major role in our life gradually become less important, and we find ourselves forgetting the main purpose.

Getting Lost

I remember my last walk through the woods like it was yesterday. Although it started a couple of months earlier, November of 2016 is when I finally found myself stuck. I couldn’t find any peace in life. Thoughts would run through my mind a hundred miles an hour from the time I would wake up until I laid down to stare at the ceiling in my bedroom, trying to fall asleep. Every morning I would wake up begging God to allow me to experience His presence in my life, just to lay down that night cursing Him for not showing up.

My work days were long, my desk was busy, and my heart was emptier than it had ever been before. My daughter had recently turned a year old and her mother was kind enough to send me pictures. If I’m honest, I struggled just to look at them. I couldn’t stand seeing how happy she was without me being there. Looking back now, I am glad her smile was never blemished during the time I was gone.

As the weeks continued to go by, I found myself traveling deeper into the trees. There were days it felt like I was jogging at a steady pace, and others when I could barely crawl. It felt like I was growing further and further away from God with every step I took.

While your story might not be written exactly like mine, I am pretty sure there are plenty of people reading this who can relate. The days drag by, prayers become shorter, and eventually, the pain becomes so severe that we teach ourselves to tune it out.

Trying to manufacture peace

For me, this happened by drowning myself in work. I had built up quite the reputation for myself as a sports writer and had enough work to go a stretch of over a hundred days in a row without taking a day off, working at least twelve hours a day.  This was my answer. Spend so much time writing about grown men playing a silly game that your mind it too exhausted to realize just how much your heart is hurting. Eventually, I found myself so lost in the wilderness, that it was finally dark enough to see the light in the distance.

I think some of us forget the fact that Scripture tells us we have a jealous God. When this long trip of mine began that August, I was further from God than I had been in many years. Yes, I would pray a couple nights a week when I was frustrated enough, but that’s like waiting for your lungs to fill up with water before you seek the lifeguard’s attention.

My wife and I were having some serious struggles at the time and trying to be a better husband, pay more attention to my daughter, and being the best writer I could for the writing service I worked for became paramount to everything else. I was too busy to spend time with God, let alone actually follow the tugging of Him trying to lead me where He wanted me to go.

Learning to appreciate the trees

There’s something about these trips through the wilderness I have finally been able to appreciate. These seasons of our lives are not punishment. The forest is not somewhere we are sentenced to go for a period of time. It is not an aimless journey, traveling blindly without God’s help. He is actually the guide leading the way.

There’s a certain beauty that comes with finding yourself lost in the wilderness. When you’re finally able to put an end to the fear and panic of being in the darkness of the woods, you start to realize there is nothing in your surrounding to distract you. There is not any noise to tune out or scenery demanding your attention. Once you finally become too tired to go any further, you stop and pitch a tent, and realize God has been right there waiting for you the entire time.

Sometimes we have to be led somewhere we don’t want to go in order to build the right manner of motives for what we are seeking. When I first laced up my boots and made a start for the trees, I wanted God because I thought He would make my life easier. As I started making my way into the woods and the sunshine began to disappear in the background, I wanted God because I was scared.

As I made it further along the trail, I began to grow comfortable and thought just maybe I could make it through on my own. Finally, I was able to discover that I needed God just for who He is and not what He could do for me, and He was right there with a campfire that grows brighter every day.

Hosea 2:14    “Therefore, behold, I will allure her, and bring her into the wilderness, and speak tenderly to her.”