I have been silent for several months because I have been traveling through the wilderness. For those acquainted with the Bible, this was the time during which God taught the children of Israel how to depend on Him after their 400-year slavery in Egypt.
The wilderness experience is usually a very lonely time; it’s often a time of preparation and depending upon God in a way that you have not before, and it prepares you spiritually for living at a different level IF you are willing to go through the process of change that is required.
In an earlier blog, I mentioned the book “The Dream Giver” by Bruce Wilkinson as being extremely helpful to me at various points in my journey. This is especially true now!
Wilkinson tells the story of a young man named Ordinary from the Land of Familiar. Ordinary has been visited by the Dream Giver, who has placed a dream in his heart. The book recounts Ordinary’s journey from the Land of Familiar to the Land of Promise and his transformation from being “Ordinary” to becoming a “Somebody.”
Chapter four entitled, “Ordinary Enters the Wasteland,” has become a touchstone for me during this time. I want to share with you the portion of the story that speaks to me:
More time passed. The longest hours and days Ordinary could ever remember passed. Desperately, he began to look for a way out…Every delay made him more determined to find a quicker route. But every attempt only led to another dead end. Again and again, Ordinary lost his way. Again and again, he cried out for the Dream Giver to show him the way. But no answer came. Why had he ever trusted the Dream Giver to guide him in the first place?
The day came when Ordinary finally gave up. He sat on his suitcase and refused to move until the Dream Giver showed up with a plan. But the Dream Giver didn’t show up that day or the next. Ordinary had never felt so lost and alone. He became angry. He got angrier and angrier.
…Ordinary stood to his feet. But as far as he could see, there was only sand. The path to His Dream had disappeared completely. Obviously, his entire trip through the WasteLand had been a Waste! Hot tears coursed down his dirty cheeks. “You’re not a Dream Giver,” he shouted, “You’re a Dream Taker! I trusted you. You promised to be with me and help me. And you didn’t!” Then Ordinary stumbled in despair across the sandy Waste, dragging his empty suitcase behind him. His Dream dead and now he wanted to die, too. When he came to a scraggly tree, he lay down in its scraggly patch of shade and closed his eyes. That night, he slept the sleep of a dreamless Dreamer.
The next morning, Ordinary heard something. Startled, he peered up to see a shimmering Somebody sitting in the branches of the tree. “Who are you?” he asked, as she climbed down to the ground.
“My name is Faith,” she said. “The Dream Giver sent me to help you.” “But it’s too late!” cried Ordinary. “My Dream is dead. When I needed the Dream Giver most, he was nowhere in sight.”
“What do you need that you haven’t received?” asked Faith. “Well, if it weren’t for the few springs of water I found,” answered Ordinary, “I’d be dead of thirst by now!”
“Yes? And?” she asked. “If it weren’t for the fruit I found, I’d be a walking skeleton!” he replied…”Oh, my!” Faith murmured. “And?” “Well,” huffed Ordinary, “a little guidance would have been nice. Ever since I came here, it’s been one delay after another. I’ve been wandering in circles since I don’t know when. What a waste!”
“I see,” said Faith, nodding. “So, what will you do now?” “Just tell me how to get back to Familiar,” he said. “I’m sorry,” she said. “But, I can’t help you with that.” “That figures,” said Ordinary. “The Dream Giver sends me a helper who can’t help!” “You might be right,” said Faith. “But that’s for you to decide.” Then Faith walked away in a direction Ordinary felt sure was wrong.
It wasn’t long before Ordinary began to have second thoughts. What if he was wrong?…He began to miss her. He realized that while they were talking, he had felt hope for the first time in a very long time. Ordinary jumped to his feet and scanned the horizon…Ordinary had an idea. He climbed the scraggly tree to the top. From there, he could see Faith in the distance. As quickly as he could, he climbed down and set off in the same direction.
Later that same day, Ordinary was eating some fruit beside a trickle of water, when he saw his journey through the WasteLand in a whole new way.
Food enough for the day
Water, when he needed to drink
A path to follow that led to Faith
How could he have been so blind? Even when the Dream Giver had been nowhere in sight, he had always been near.
Great story, right! (The rest of the book is equally good!)
Here’s what I’m learning in my wasteland/wilderness:
- God is absolutely in control! As a recovering type A personality, I have had to take my hands off of this big project and surrender it to God on a daily basis. It is one of the most difficult things I have ever done! (Pray for me!)
- Recognize that since it is His project, He will provide the resources. I’ve preached this to others in the past and am now hearing my words come back to me.
- There are no shortcuts — it requires that I “walk it out” for however long it takes.
- Look at God instead of the circumstances. Early in the process, my mood would swing from excitement to stark terror until God reminded me that He called me to this project and that He is doing the work through me.
- God works everything together for good…and everything means everything! (Romans 8:28)
- Be grateful for what God has already done for me while I am in the wilderness. Recalling God’s many blessings helps to strengthen me on my journey.
- God must get the glory! — it is never about me. It’s always about what God wants to accomplish in and through me.
The bottom line is that I’m learning what Ordinary learned: when God gives you a dream, faith in God is key!
Onward to the Land of Promise!