I've been in a season of wilderness for a while now.
It started when I was beginning my second year of Bible school, maybe even a bit before that. But it was during my second year that it really began to sink in. I ached, daily, with a hurt so deep I didn't know what to do with it. I yearned to hear the voice of God in this place that was seemingly so full of it, but I was met with silence. In fact I was met with more than silence, I was met with people telling me God wouldn't answer. That my way of coming before God didn't fit inside the neat box of Christianity. In this place that was where people came to meet God, I was felt like I was standing in a desert. And I wanted to leave that place. With everything in me I wanted to walk away from that institution and I almost did. A number of times I almost packed up and left because I was craving God in such a deep way and it seemed like He wasn't there. It seemed like His people weren't there. I was hurt, and I was lost in all the confusion and the chaos. And I was deep in the wilderness in a place that I was told, and a place that I thought, should be an oasis.
When I did leave, when school rolled around to a stop and I packed up my dorm room along with my hurts, I thought things would magically get better. I would walk out that door and into the outside world where God seemed to alive and vibrant and real to me, and I would get on my yoga mat and write and love and connect to God in the way that I did best and everything would be fine. If I could exit the physical location that had housed so much wilderness for me perhaps I could exit the wilderness itself.
But I came home, and I found myself still in the wilderness. I struggled to find a job. Suddenly I had no community whatsoever (Finding that forced connections made better noise than silence) and long distance was putting strain on my heart. Here I was, thinking I would now hear the voice of God, and I didn't. At least not in the way I was expecting to. It was only me, and the quiet, and the space.
And it was here God began to speak. In whispers at first. It was here that the things I believed about God that had been moving and shaking while I was at college began rumbling and shifting, and I discovered teachings and ideas and concepts that made everything click for me. I stopped pursuing Christianity and "a personal relationship with Jesus" the way I was told personal relationships with Jesus look, and instead entered into the flow. I redefined things for myself instead of trying to fit into someone else's version of Christianity. Frankly I don't know if I fit into Christianity at all anymore. But I do know that I fit into the flow more than I ever did before, fit into God and what He's doing in the world and what He's doing in hearts and that openness and connectedness makes more sense to me than years of pouring over the Bible and trying to fit into conservative evangelical Christianity ever did. (I'm not saying that any of this is wrong. I am grateful for the things I was taught growing up in the church. I'm just finding things that work for me where I am right now with the truth God is revealing to me.)
Still, in the midst of all this coming together, I ached for the things I didn't have. I ached for the stability a job would provide. I longed to be in the same city as the person I love most. I missed community. I remember clearly one morning as I spread out my yoga mat to practice speaking the words "This is a good road. My heart is good." over myself and weeping. Because this doesn't feel like a good road. My heart doesn't feel good. And it's taking so much work to believe it. I keep speaking the words over myself because I know they are true even if I don't feel it. Over and over I am proclaiming this as good.
I am making space for these stories inside me to exist, for these old wounds to be healed. And as I look back I can tell that all this time I was slowly leaving the wilderness. I couldn't leave bible college and immediately be thrust into this world of blessings because I wasn't ready for that. I don't know if I'm ready now. I had to learn how to listen to God's voice first, to be slowly led out of that place. I had to realize that nothing was chasing me out of the wilderness. I had to leave clean, to leave behind me all of the things that didn't serve me anymore. And I am in the process of doing that.
Honestly in the last couple of days I feel closer to that than I have in a long time. I am beginning to see the light as I stumble into it, knowing also that I have not fully left the darkness behind me. I am emerging into something good, and I am leaving behind something that was good in its own right.
And now, as I look back, it is only in retrospect that I see He was there all along. He was the lion. Even in those hours that I begged to see Him in a place that I thought to be so rich of Him, He was there I just hadn't realized.
Maybe this road doesn't make sense to you, and I am only beginning to realize how it all fits together for me. but I know one thing. This is a good road. my road is a good road. your road is a good road. This is holy and hard work, friends. If I can encourage you one thing, let it be this: He is the lion.
“I was the lion who forced you to join with Aravis. I was the cat who comforted you among the houses of the dead. I was the lion who drove the jackals from you while you slept. I was the lion who gave the horses the new strength of fear for the last mill so that you should reach King Lune in time. And I was the lion you do not remember who pushed the boat in which you lay, a child near death, so that it came to shore where a man sat, wakeful at midnight, to receive you.”