In the Bible, the wilderness represents a place of struggle, of wandering, of rebellion, of dryness, and of temptation. We also experience the wilderness in our own lives. For some, life is part wilderness, part sunshine; part struggle and part joy. For others, wilderness dominates every breath.
We live in the wilderness for many reasons.
At times, wilderness living is thrust upon us by the death of a loved one, a job loss, or a relationship which ends. Joy is possible, even in this wilderness, but only as a supernatural gift that coexists alongside the intense pain. Other times, stifling dryness forms a kind of wilderness existence, where we are doing the right things the best we can, but God seems distant and silent, and joy is a distant memory.
Many of us, though, create a wilderness of our own choosing. This wilderness is shaped through the thought patterns, habits, priorities, and choices we make each day. We may anesthetize ourselves with activity and distraction, but inside we feel the desert scorching us, creating a parched, colorless life, convinced no real alternative exists.
How do we escape this wilderness of our own choosing? We choose to pick up and move. By the choices we make, we begin to move from winter’s cold to spring’s vitality. We strive to discipline our patterns of thought. We make small, daily choices which slowly create joy. We take one destructive habit and replace it with a life-giving habit.
We won’t likely find relief from the wilderness overnight. We move toward joy one baby step at a time. We may not have all of the answers, but every one of us knows one thing we can change which will breathe life into us instead of draining it away.
- What thought habit could you begin today which would move you toward joy? Are you allowing despair free rein instead of choosing hope? Are you beating yourself up instead of offering yourself the same grace God has already extended to you? Have you lost view of the small blessings that always show themselves amidst the hardships? Thought patterns are perhaps the hardest changes to make. They are only conquered by the grace of God, one day at a time.
- What relational habit could you begin today which would move you toward deeper connection? Weekly breakfast or lunch with a close friend? Extending grace instead of judgment? Cutting out sarcasm and offering encouragement?
- What action habit could you begin today which would move you toward health?
Beginning exercise regularly? Limiting TV? Eating good, healthy foods? Reading daily? Praying with a listening ear?
Every one of us, to varying degrees, lives in a wilderness of our own choosing. Yet, God is always with us, even in the wilderness.
Choose just one change and commit yourself to that change right now. Momentum will be created. Soon, we will see growth happening. Move one step at a time from the wilderness of your own choosing.