I love to see older couples together walking down the street hand in hand. It is unfortunate that you do not see that as much as you used to. When I was first married and would see this sight I would think to myself, “That is how I want us to be…” Now, after years of marriage, when I see an elderly couple walking hand in hand my thoughts are different. I ask myself questions. “What hard times have they gone through?” “Did they ever have times when the stress of life almost pulled them apart?” “Why have they stayed together?” Let’s face it, just because a couple has been together for years and years does not mean that every year has been perfect and happy and wonderful. It means that they honored their commitments and they weathered the storms that came. They went through the storms and they chose not bail out.
This is not the way that I normally start an anniversary post; but this past year has not been a ‘normal’ year for us as a married couple. It has been difficult. How’s that for being transparent? Our life has been a bit stressful. We have set out to do some things that caused us to have to make changes that took us out of our comfort zone. I had two major surgeries within 10 days of each other that caused quite a lengthy recovery. We attempted something with Zak, which while it has been a wonderful decision, actually making it was very difficult. To add to all of that, we live almost an hour from our church and are not able to fellowship with other’s the way that we always have. The latter of this list is perhaps the one thing that has caused the most grief.
It has been hard. Yet, it has been good for us. Good for us to realize that we have things we need to work on. We have also been put in a position where it feels like we are almost completely alone. Sometimes God takes you to the wilderness. That is how it has felt to me.
You learn a lot in the wilderness. You learn how you respond when the heat is great and you are tired of just surviving; and you find your response can be far from how Christ would respond. You find that when you are in the wilderness you get hurt. There are stimuli in the wilderness that inflict pain. It does not take too long in the wilderness before you find that you are walking around hurt. You learn then what it means when they say ‘hurting people hurt people’; because you find yourself hurting those to whom you wish never to hurt. Wilderness’ do that to people.
Wilderness Journeys reveal who you are.
This wilderness has showed me – me.
The wilderness has showed me others. Others do not take too kindly to those in the wilderness. Figuratively speaking people in the wilderness smell, they are emotionally bankrupt, physically drained and this depletion causes them to be needy. Needy people usually are not profitable to the greater good. Those in the wilderness require a precious resource many find too precious to spend on someone who will not profit them or their own personal agenda. Time is a precious commodity. Once spent time cannot be remade. Most people chose to spend time in ways that profit themselves. Thus, wilderness people rarely find those who are willing to spend the precious resource on them. If ministry requires more than a weekly phone call telling the person they are looking forward to seeing them at church, or more than taking over one (or at the most two) meals to ‘bless’ the person in their need – people find they can quickly dismiss the needy wilderness person as ‘in sin’ or ‘beyond help’. I know, I have felt that way – before the wilderness journey.
The wilderness is lonely.
The wilderness is dark. Darkness causes shadows to appear. Shadows are always bigger than reality and in the wilderness the shadows seem to envelope each and every inch. The shadow of despair completely covers the doorway of hope making it almost impossible to see. The shadow of doubt completely hides the path of faith and in the wilderness it seems that there are no paths. The ground has no path cut through, just dusty, parched ground that cracks and seems to go on forever – on either side as far as the eye can see ahead or behind.
The wilderness is full of inaccurate illusions.
The wilderness is confusing.
How thankful I am that God is not a God of the fertile plains. He does not just dwell in the ‘green pastures’. He also is a God that goes with us in the “valley of the shadows of death”. I found Him in my wilderness. I have found in Him a refuge and a hiding place. I have found in Him the power to forgive the hurts that have paralyzed me from love. I have found in Him everything. He is here - In the wilderness; and while there are no green pastures in sight, no still waters to refresh my thirsty soul I know He is with me. I found that I can cling to Him and in the clinging I have found in Him that He is all together lovely. In His embrace there is no wilderness, no loneliness, no darkness and no confusion.
He is the way out of the wilderness.
In Him dwells all the power needed to make me all that I need to be. Every aspect of my life is complete in Him. In Him I find the power to walk in the wilderness and not faint.
So, tomorrow, we start on our 23 year of marriage. We walk it figuratively hand in hand. I believe we have come to the end of our wilderness. We have walked through the valley and He has been with us. We have walked, struggled and even at times despaired. He has been with us. It has been hard; but it has drawn us closer to Him; and the closer we have come to Him the deeper our relationship to one another.
There is a seasoned maturity that has been added to our marriage in this past year. It has not come easily. Maturity never does. We are walking into the next year closer to Him. We have sought after Him; He has heard our cry and has brought us up. He has strengthened us and we will never be the same.
Happy Anniversary, Rob. I am so glad I get to walk through life with you – even the wilderness times are better together. Looking forward to what He has in store for us this next year. I vow to pray for you more this year than I have ever prayed for you before in our married life. I am glad we get to travel this path together.
I love you.