In the wilderness

Have you ever had a wilderness experience?

I’m not talking about the long-hike-in-the-woods, sleep-under-the-stars, eat-s’mores-by-a-campfire kind of wilderness experience.

I’m talking about the-whole-universe-is-against-you, a-dark-cloud-follows-you-everywhere-you-go (like Pigpen from The Peanuts Gang), all-you-want-to-do-is-stay-under-the-covers-and-sulk kind of wilderness experience.

Well, lately, I’ve been having one of those not-so-great wilderness experiences. I hope to share more details with you in a later post, but to sum things up: This week, my day job has been a little frustrating (I’m sure you’ve never experienced this, ha!); I’ve been hurt recently by some people I love and care about very much (I’m sure you’ve never experienced this either, ha!); my church ministry has lost its luster; my blog numbers aren’t where I think they should be; a door may be closing on an income opportunity I was very excited about; my house is a mess; and, for the icing on the cake, I haven’t been feeling very well or been motivated to change any of these situations. So, I’ve basically been throwing a big, fat pity party for myself complete with leftover Easter candy and Gardners chocolate-covered cherries. (Did I mention I’ve also gained five pounds?)

During my daily lunch walk and talk with God today, I lamented to Him about my current state of affairs, and then I asked … well … for help to get through all this. And in His all-too-familiar, still, small voice, He spoke to me.

“Susan, I want you to pray for the people you believe have wronged you,” He said. Sheesh. So, through gritted teeth, I did just that. It’s amazing how difficult it is to stay mad at people when you are offering intercessory prayer on their behalf.

Then He brought to my mind Galatians 5:22-23 – “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.”

Longsuffering (patience)gentlenesstemperance (self-restraint, self-control, self-denial, self-discipline)

These are all virtues that I need in my life and very often lack.

“I need you to bear fruit in these areas,” He tells me. “Praise Me for loving you enough to not leave you as you are …”

And as I come to terms with the fact that I am in a season of waiting … of growth … of longsuffering, I’m reminded of one of my favorite characters of the Bible: Joseph. Joseph’s story is told in Genesis (chapters 37-45). Joseph walked closely with God, but still experienced great sorrow in his life. He was betrayed by his brothers, sold into slavery, and even thrown into prison for a long time. Yet, “the LORD was with Joseph and gave him success in whatever he did.” – Gen. 39:23. Joseph didn’t waver in His faith. In his darkest hours, he still glorified and honored God, believing He would deliver and vindicate him.

Although I could never compare my measly problems with the hardships Joseph experienced in his life, I can claim the promise that God rewards and blesses those who faithfully serve and obey Him. But the rewards come in His timing, not mine.

So I’m not going to stay under the covers, gossip about my co-workers or complain about my circumstances. I’m going to praise God for walking me through this valley. I can only imagine what’s on the other side of the mountain!

Have you walked in the wilderness lately? If so, what was on the other side? Are you still waiting to find out?

I’m linking up to … Women Living Well.

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24 Responses

  1. sara ross says:

    thanks susan for this, this has been a hard day for me and I needed this 😉 Hope you and matt are doing great!!! Ms EVA too!! love to you all

  2. Cindy Stone says:

    Thanks for sharing this….I have added you to my prayer list. So you continue to pray for the others and I will pray for you.

  3. becky zannino says:

    Hey girl, I will be praying for u!

  4. Debbie says:

    It’s tough being in God’s Waiting Room, waiting for things to work out. Praying for you too.

    • Susan says:

      Thanks, Debbie. I hate waiting rooms. 🙂 But they usually mean you’re going to see a physician to get something fixed, right? I think God still has a lot of “heart improvement projects” He wants to complete in me.

  5. Sharon Hines says:

    Tears are filling my eyes. I feel your pain. literally. I was in this very same valley for a several months. I’m still recovering from the hurt and disappointment. I say all of this not to shift the focus to me, but in hopes that you will be encouraged by knowing you’re not alone. I’m not really on the other side of it, but don’t quite feel like I’m in the very depth of the valley. So, Susan, I’d love to be your traveling companion on this spiritual journey. I think we could both greatly benefit from the companionship. I will be praying for you. xo, sharon

  6. Jo Shawver says:

    Thank you for sharing. I needed the reminder “God is always with me”. I know He is, but tend to forget!

    • Susan says:

      I sometimes forget that, too, Jo. And, I hate to admit it, but I question His goodness at times as well, because I can’t always see it. But He is good … ALL the time!!!

  7. Carol says:

    Man did I need to hear this! I too have been going through some things and am very hurt by people I thought I could count on. I’m feeling very alone lately with alot of burden. I needed a pep talk and that’s what your blog was to me today so I thank you very much for sharing your pain and your hope. I love you!

  8. Carol Allenbaugh says:

    Suz, I feel your pain and please know I am always here for you and will be praying for you. I’ve been and parts of me still are where you are right now. Alright I’m going to do what I NEVER do….a long reply. 🙂 I remember a sermon I heard years ago that was one that really hit home with me that I think of often. It was on the Potter and how God is working with us as a piece of fine pottery. When he finds us and we start out our walk we are a big old lump of clay/mud and he starts as a potter would molding us and shaping us. During that process, if there are imperfections the potter has to flatten it and start over (sounds painful right?). Remember though if you have ever seen a Potter, all the while he never stops the wheel that the clay is on and he just keeps working on it because He sees the beautiful work of art it will become. Someone watching may only see him rising it up and then as only he sees what is not right stopping going back to the beginning and starting over. (If you have ever seen the process which you probably have, the only way to flatten the clay is to push it back to wheel with a hard smack). All the while never giving up and losing focus but continuing to work out all of the imperfections. After all he is the master and only He knows the end and what he plans to use it for. Finally the clay gives in to his hand and works with him and he rises it up to what he wants it to be and what he had intended it to be used for. (I think I was made as a big fat round bowl) This next part is what has always amazed and resonated with me. When the clay becomes what he had intended and is ready, then he takes what he has been working on and sits it on a shelf to dry. It will sit there for a long time maybe years till he feels it is strong enough to do the job it was created for. Then and only then after he sees it has sat long enough will he take it and THEN put it in the fire…right? Just when you think it has been bad sitting alone on a shelf drying out not doing what you were created through him for, what you think you are ready for he places you in the hot fire. After the fire he prepares it placing His finishing touch on it and puts it out for use in the world. I always wonder when I am in a situation where I am in that process in my life. I mostly feel between the wheel getting smacked (ha-ha) around because of my flaws and imperfections or sitting on the shelf drying out and feeling alone and waiting. In my life the most critical and demanding person is me. I’m so hard on myself, and if you ever want to talk jobs give me a call I can relate to that 100%. 🙂 You are an amazing person and I am so proud of you. Love you!

    • Susan says:

      Oh, Biggie Much. That is such an encouragement. I’ll keep that analogy in my mind all week. We need to get together soon. Big news to share! Oh, and I love your long comments. Keep ’em comin’! 🙂

  9. Sharon Hines says:

    Hi Susan, just thinking of you and wanted to stop by and say hi. Hope you’re doing well.

    Sharon @ mrs. hines class

  10. Michelle says:

    Welllllll…….I am a little behind in reading your blogs!!!! We ALLL have our wilderness experiences. Some day I’ll tell you about several of mine. Currently God has me in a “BE STILL AND KNOW I AM GOD!” There are times I feel like he is screaming it as bodly as I just typed it. As of yet I have NO IDEA how to “be still and knwo that he is God.” I do know that He will show me. I also know that God has opened and will continue to open doors for you! That is only because YOU are faithful to Him. You have been blessed with amazing talent and leadership skills. I cannot express enough how I enjoyed out time together on the trip to Maryland, shopping and back home. It gave me the oportunity to get to know better my sister in Christ. I praise God for that and you! Know that I am pray…I have never stopped. God has great things in store for you. Remember what Pastor Dennis said in his sermon on Sunday….We have to glory in our trials and tribulations. I love you!

  11. Lori says:

    Hi Susan,
    I just stopped by from the Haven Conference site and I just read your in the wilderness experience. I appreciate your honesty! I have been through a few wilderness experiences myself and I am so thankful that God is in control and He ALWAYS sees us through! This too shall pass…. one day… I look forward to maybe meeting you at Haven.

    • Susan says:

      Thanks for stopping by, Lori. I’ll look for you at Haven. I checked out your site and I love the progress you’ve been making at the apartments. That keeps you busy, I’m sure!

  12. Megan says:

    Wow, you just explained my life! This is very encouraging for me. I will try to take this to heart. Thanks so much for this post!

  1. May 8, 2012

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