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Lent Devotional: Wednesday, March 20

Still the Wilderness?
Occasionally, weep deeply over the life you hoped would be. Grieve the losses. Then wash your face. Trust God. And embrace the life you have. --John Piper

From my journal February 21, 22:
"Today, as I huddle under my hot-hot purple-collar heating pad relaxing my rock-hard neck muscles, with my plush purple blanket spreading several weeks of tiny dog hairs over my legs, and sipping hot chai tea from my purple mug, I am wondering what I can say about the wilderness. Even as pain and uncertainty descend, I have resources to find at least physical comfort. So what is the wilderness?

I'm asking because my morning has been about the uncertainty of what is about to go down and fear of the pain God will require of us to reach where He wants us to be. That feels like wilderness to me. Regardless of all the purple comforts.

It seems that wilderness is when I'm stuck in something for which I see no way out; no hope, loss and fear of loss, prayer seemingly ineffective, self focus. Like loss of all income. Like a stroke - my identity and purpose undone by a brain-bleed. By this definition, is it possible to step out of that wilderness by choosing hope, changing my mindset and perspective? Is the wilderness governed by my actions or God's? Is it a state of mind, regardless of circumstances, or is it a state of circumstance that is
endured by a state of mind? And is each circumstance a separate wilderness or do they all converge into one giant desert?"

"Be still and know that I am God" (Psalm 46:10)
"But God..."
"Be still"
"I know but ..."
"Know that I am God."

The silence is deafening as I squirm. Read. Sleep. Talk to God. Quiet. For a long time. And then - is that His heartbeat? My heart quickens with His. He's empathizing with my pain as I'm trusting Him. I feel like I'm on the edge of a cliff, ready for free-fall. And He is with me because I waited on Him. It is a "cruel" love that brings deepest intimacy. My hope, my life, one day at a time. I can adapt to my circumstance and live that day because God's Spirit fills my heart with courage and hope. There is still pain, loss, uncertainty - about the circumstance - but my spirit is at peace. Am I still in the wilderness?

This is a spiritual refining process, with glory just around the corner. 1 Peter 4:13 MSG
Say no, with conviction, to what makes me anxious, afraid, stressed - the power of my circumstances.

Say yes, with abandon, to what brings me joy, energy, peace - God's power of perspective.

My yes is the oasis that I carry with me in the wilderness, that crucible which strips me of my protection, silences my voices, and whispers His love. 

Our human suffering need not be an obstacle to the joy and peace we so desire but can become instead the means to it. --Henri Nouwen


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