The Wilderness

I’ve gotten my first request to write about a topic!  After reading the “God Within Us” post, a friend from my past called to discuss a struggle of hers:

“I’m struggling with being very human. My mind doesn’t go with the things of God. It seems to go against God and I’m trying desperately to get Him to work within me and trying to make it all happen and I don’t know how to trust. It’s a point of frustration internally with where I am at with God.  But I can’t make Him work but I’ve got to WANT Him to work!” I’m willing to guess many others reading this post have been through the same thing, maybe more than once.

Matthew 14:28-29:

28“Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.” 29“Come,” he said. Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus.

Peter ‘on the water’ is where I think my friend wants to be!  I know I do!! Peter ‘in the boat’ is where Mark and I were prior to my diagnosis.  We knew Jesus but hadn’t been tested in faith on the water yet.  A few months prior to my diagnosis, I had a feeling that we needed to step up and seek God more.  That’s when we carved out time together to create the family mission statement (inspired by some friends who had done it).  The week after we created the mission statement, I was diagnosed.  Suddenly, we were shoved from the boat and into the water!  He prepared us for that day. Mark says he feels more prepared for this than anything else he’s done.  He thinks he’s mediocre at everything else but great at this.  I agree! Well, that he’s great at this, not the mediocre part of course. It sounds weird to say it, but we were lucky!  While we dabbled around sticking our toes in the water and thinking about trying to walk on it with Him, He just came right up and forced us onto the sea.  So our story is much different than Peter’s, and I’m not sure we’re “walking” on the water.  We’re probably still flailing.  Anyhow, before the diagnosis, we lacked the need/urgency to get out of the comfort of the boat, but once we were out, it was so much better.  The time since diagnosis has been great!  Well maybe not the physical pain, but it’s worth it because we’re growing in the word and especially in our prayer lives.  I think the most important thing people can do (we now do) is to take that leap of faith.  When we feel very human; it’s natural.  Ironically, when life is scripted and comfortable the way we plan it with a good house, healthy kids, cars that run, a great job, family intact, going to church, praying regularly, etc., it’s somehow easy to feel apart from God.  For us, when that life was ripped away, it helped us see God more clearly.

So the biggest things we’ve done to feel a draw closer to Him are focused prayer and having an attitude of trust, that we aren’t in control. Faith involves believing in Him even if we aren’t seeing or feeling him. I’ve had that feeling of separation from God, but I realize now that it was all good practice for where I am in this current life. I combat separation with scripture, prayer, and a good look at what I may have going in my life that I need to do less or more of. Whether it’s too much watching too many Netflix shows, being overcommitted or having a schedule that’s too full, surfing Facebook, complaining, talking badly about others, etc., we often are the ones who have separated ourselves from Him and need to take down some of the road blocks so we can feel Him. It’s unique to each person. This concept is as old as the ages. The Bible shows the writers of Psalms asking God why He seems so far away, why He seems to hide when trouble is in the midst.

Psalm 145:18 (NIV) The Lord is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth.

Phillippians 1:6 (NIV) I am ‘confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.’

I love the way former MLB-pitcher-turned-Christian-speaker Dave Dravecky explains how we should react when we feel we’re wandering the wilderness:

Looking back, [my wife] Jan and I have learned that the wilderness is part of the landscape of faith, and every bit as essential as the mountaintop. On the mountaintop we are overwhelmed by God’s presence. In the wilderness we are overwhelmed by his absence. Both places should bring us to our knees; the one, in utter awe; the other, in utter dependence. (Citation: Dave Dravecky in When You Can’t Come Back. Christianity Today, Vol. 38, no. 2.)

So, to my friend, just know that you are not alone!!  So many others feel the same way you do and have struggled in the wilderness.  But take heart because something wonderful is coming and I’m certain that you’ll look back and see this time as a precious experience which actually worked to bring you closer to God.

17 Comments

  1. Thanks friend! This was exactly what I needed tonight! God totally used you to encourage me tonight. Love you!

  2. Jaimie Christian

    January 9, 2016 at 11:53 PM

    Lori,
    You continue to amaze and inspire me! I pray for you and your family constantly and beg for understanding! I know we are not close or even the type of friends that keep In contact or “hang out” but the strength you have and show to others is beyond anything I could aspire to have. God Bless You.
    Praying for understanding,
    Jaimie

    • Lori Jones

      January 10, 2016 at 6:19 AM

      Thanks, Jaimie. That is so kind. If you ever wanna have coffee, you just come OVER. You know where we live! Praying for you for understanding.

  3. Great post Lori!!! Keeping you in my prayers for total healing and comfort. Much love and hugs!!!
    Laurie

  4. Lori Jones

    January 10, 2016 at 6:12 AM

    So glad I could return the favor, MB! Love you too, sweetie.

  5. Stephanie Mulia

    January 10, 2016 at 7:26 AM

    Loved this. Thanks, Lori! 🙂

  6. Thank you for sharing….your words are so rich, I needed to hear this message. Gascho’s from DUMC

  7. Praying for you Lori. My nephew (a friend of yours and Mark’s) has many family members praying for you . You are truly an inspiration to us. Praying for healing and comfort . Praying for you and all of your family .

  8. Hey sweet thing. I prayed for you at the cross at Church today for every day to be better than the last. Continued prayers for pain-free days and more memories with your precious family. Love you!

  9. This was beautiful, Lori. You shine a light for me. ❤️

  10. I am being pushed out of the boat but I am still clutching the boat with both hands. Thank you for you experienced words of wisdom.

    Praying for peaceful night full of restoring physical and mental rest.

  11. What a beautiful writer you are sweetie! Thank you for sharing your wisdom and encouragement. This is such a great reminder. Thank you for drawing me nearer to JESUS. I’m humbled to call you friend forever. Love you so much ❤️

  12. Awesome Lori!! What a great reminder I needed to hear this morning. Thinking of you and praying always!

  13. On a funny note, I can’t believe you have your quotes perfectly cited while you are in pain! Beautiful writing and profound truth. Thank you for your testimony of Jesus Christ.

  14. Lori, you probably don’t remember me but Eva Sturgeon informed me of your diagnosis recently and asked me to pray for you. I used to come over sometimes in Auburn to play with Rachel when we were little. I just want you to know your posts are beautiful and encouraging, and the wilderness one spoke to me greatly today. We do foster care and lately it’s been very hard. Seeing your faith in the midst of your pain and struggle is a GREAT encouragement. I’m praying for you and your family!

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