Thus says the Lord:
“The people who survived the sword
found grace in the wilderness;
when Israel sought for rest,
the Lord appeared to him from far away.
I have loved you with an everlasting love;
therefore I have continued my faithfulness to you.
And so I’ve come to see the pattern of this life as one of perpetual returns to the wilderness. Though not the result, many times, of outward rebellion or unbelief, it is the necessary means of coming to know a grace exquisite.
The wilderness is the place where the circumstances of life strip us bare. We find that faltering steps and tattered clothes that fail to hide the wounds of too many falls from foolishness or treachery are simply not sufficient to lead us home.
We need grace in the wilderness as we would never come to need it when milk and honey flow and our table is full and all is bloom and new life.
We find nourishment in the deep places of marrow and soul in the manna, the mystery, that is our provision when so many why’s go unanswered and the uncertainty of our way is acutely punctuated.
Our vision becomes singular for there are no distractions in the wilderness. We see unequivocally who calls us from afar and draws ever nearer with a clear pathway to our hearts.
And with each return to the wilderness, we come to embrace this veil of tears and valley of shadow for what it is…and what it isn’t. We recognize that until we are Home forever, every step holds a hint of the wanderer; the exile; the longing for another world.
We see that there is no other way than to walk this road. And in the paradox of the kingdom we find our steps are surer and more resolute for we have come to identify increasingly with the Suffering Servant who is our Salvation. Life. All-in-All.
And we leave behind the answers to the pain. to the sweet children, babies, who leave the here and now forever with a void in their place only Heaven can fill. to the beloved mama’s and papa’s who lose their battles to live and must leave their young. to the senseless violence that plagues schools and villages and homes too numerous to count.
We refuse the happy ending now for the Wedding of the Lamb that awaits that Great and Final Day of Completion. And so we raise high a hope that is indestructible, unquenchable and pure gold for it’s fire’s refining; it’s wilderness birth.
Yes, there IS INDEED grace exquisite…in the wilderness.