How To Leave The Wilderness

I'm desperate for something new, you guys. Desperate.

I walked through some sacred ground last month during the 31 Days of Reclaiming Body Image Series. There were days when I didn't want to write anymore because my heart was bubbling over with old things; things that were stirred up, brought to the surface and then.... what? I felt the weight of this churning desire to be DONE with the old way; the old desert; the old wandering; the old sense of never quite belonging. I'm still tired. I guess I'm recovering from recovering.

If I could give the theme of my life one label it would this: Wilderness. Lots and lots of wilderness. For as long as I can remember. I have wandered and thirsted and stumbled into pits my entire life. The interesting thing is that I have also met Jesus in undeniable, soul healing ways. When I look back at my life and see the waves of darkness and depression pierced with the light of having encountered Him I am amazed that I would have ever wanted anything else. Henri Nouwen said that the desert is the place of the Great Struggle and the Great Encounter. Henri probably lived with Wilderness too.

This is the reason I resonate with books, messages, songs and parts of the Bible that uncover the sacredness of the desert. Maybe it's why I'm still physically in the desert - cause Lord knows I don't love it. I keep trying to escape and He keeps drawing me back - like Hosea with Gomer. Purging me. Reviving me. Restoring me.

And then I stir it all up again. I get tired because I'm digging into hard, wild land again. I'm hacking away at something old. Like Gomer, I'm running back and forth trying to decipher what I'm WORTHY of. My old self stares me in the face and I convince myself that she is a mirror, not a ghost. You know how I know I'm spinning a bit? I'm anxious. I'm afraid. I'm angry. I'm exhausted. Nothing is soothing my Wilderness self. Nothing.

Except for this.

"Out of here! Out of here! Leave this place! Don't look back. Don't contaminate yourselves with plunder. Just leave, but leave clean. Purify yourselves in the process of worship, carrying the holy vessels of God. But you don't have to be in a hurry. You're not running from anybody! God is leading you out of here, and the God of Israel is also your rear guard."
Isaiah 52: 11&12

Maybe you felt that same stirring up last month. Maybe, at the end of it all, you landed in Wilderness again too. Maybe you're holding this giant heap of OLD and wondering what to do with it now. Maybe you're desperate for something new too. 

Three things, sister.

1. Leave, but leave empty-handed. You don't need to take any plunder with you. Whatever you once thought was shiny and sustainable and valuable is worth nothing once you leave the Wilderness. That heap that you've been clinging to won't serve you. It never really has. So, throw in the shovel and start walking.

2. Leave clean. Leave with worship spilling off of your lips and flooding your heart. You've left the old behind, so embrace gratitude flooded heart. Isn't it true that, when God parts a sea or opens a Wilderness door, we can't help but worship? Let that worship be like soft rain, washing off dust and tears and sun-scorched skin. 

3. Don't rush. You don't have to. No one is chasing you, but God is both leading you and watching your back. Whatever you have experienced in the Wilderness is left behind on that heap. You've processed it, studied it, observed and forgiven it. There's no need to run from it. 

We WANT something new, because there IS something new. We who have been wanderers will someday be settled. Our hearts will give under the tug of freedom. We'll burst open and find that, although we've been afraid of breaking open, fresh air is more like salve. 

And when you hear the sounds of OLD calling out to you, remind yourself:

Three things...

*November 2013