Sometimes it’s hard to figure out what God is saying to me about a particular problem or situation. And other times, it’s like he’s smacking me in the face.
It’s not quite as mean as it sounds. I can be a little dense, so it’s actually pretty helpful.
Which is why, when one of the speakers at the Orange Conference began talking about the wilderness, I only groaned a little.
See, it started with Stuff Christians Like. That Jon Acuff started writing about how being stuck in a place far from your calling or your dream or your goals is like the Israelites being stuck in the wilderness. And I ate it up with a spoon. (Really, I haven’t stopped, since he wrote a book about pretty much that exact thing, and I pre-ordered it the minute it appeared on Amazon.)
Then, my friend Brittany and I decided to start a Bible study together, and the Priscilla Shirer study we chose turned out to be all about the wilderness.
So is it any surprise that Jeff Manion, senior teaching pastor at Ada Bible Church and author of The Land Between: Finding God in Difficult Transitions, spoke about the wilderness last week?
Well, no. I mean, he did write a book about it.
The more surprising thing is that it took me this long to see the pattern of what God just might be telling me. I’m still processing what this message means for my own life. But for now, I wanted to share with you some of the best bits of Jeff’s sermon.
If you’re not familiar with the story of the Israelites in the wilderness, here’s a quick rundown. The Israelites were in slavery in Egypt until Moses broke them out. On their way to the promised land (the one flowing with milk and honey), they got real whiny and rebellious. God provided for them like nobody’s business and was incredibly patient. But they just couldn’t get it together. And so God let them wander in the desert for years and years.
Based on this story, Jeff explained that the wilderness – or the land between, as he calls it – “is fertile ground for transformational growth. It’s also the place where faith goes to die.” He said, your heart is in danger when you go through the wilderness, and the choices we make in the land between may determine the people we become.
More specifically – and this is the one that got tweeted out like crazy – When you get hurt at 25, how you respond decides what kind of 45-year-old you will become. (Because, if you’re hurt and you don’t work through it, you’ll end up bitter and ugly.)
Wow . . . that one is still working on me.
Like I said, I’m still processing all this, but I couldn’t wait to share it with you. So, what do you think about this idea that our decisions while in the wilderness are critical? Are you in the wilderness – the land between – right now? Do you think your heart is in danger, that your current decisions could determine what kind of person you turn into twenty years from now?