Wilderness. Cave. Dead end.
Are you feeling stuck? Did you think you would be here, where you are, even six months ago?
For forty years I led you through the wilderness, yet your clothes and sandals did not wear out. Deuteronomy 29:5
Did you catch this? This is the LORD speaking. HE led them through the wilderness. A wilderness is desolate. Wild. Not a whole lot to be desired. Uninhabitable usually. Different. Not a lot of food sources. And water can be lacking at times.
+Windy. Hot. Exposed.
But in the case of the Israelites, the LORD Himself led them. They lacked nothing. He provided for their every need. Yes, it was a wilderness. Yes, it was difficult. But, God Himself was with them. And, they were stuck for forty years – because of their own stubbornness and pride; they had what should have been a short trip, turn into more of a Gilligan’s Island trip.
There is also the cave. A cul-de-sac of the earth. One way in, one way out. At least with a wilderness, it is not so claustrophobic. But a cave? A chamber in the geology of our lives. A cave can seem adventuresome at first. Rather like a wilderness. A fun place to explore. For a while. But then it goes from a vacation, to confinement.
Do you feel stuck in a cave? Or do you feel like you are wandering around in an seemingly unending wilderness?
I so much want to get out of my cave. I have looked at every nook and cranny. I have counted every crack. I have measured the length, the width and breadth of this place. I have sat in every spot for a different view. I want OUT. Even in the wilderness, it gets old. As in same ol’. Same ol’. Same sand. Same wind. Same scorching sun.
I find myself in constant activity to find the exit of this confinement. Always. What can I do to get out? What certain thing can I do to shorten my stay here? New doctor? New treatment? New whatever? I am so busy looking to get on the other side, that I have ceased to be living in the here and now. I dream of the “day when I am better.”
At the beginning of the year, one of our pastors shared that he, too, was always looking to get through 2020. Such an optimist. Always looking to get through to 2021, that he was missing what was right in front of him. Ouch. I heard myself in his sermon. More importantly, I heard the Holy Spirit.
I was so looking to get out of my cave, that I had ceased living IN the cave. I wanted to get to the other side. You know, somewhere over the rainbow? Isn’t that where lollipops and balloons live? I wanted to go there. Where it’s fun. I wanted out of this, and into that. I wanted to cash in on my pot of gold.
Wishful thinking for sure.
In all of the striving to get out, I was not doing anything to be comfortable IN. Not that I want to decorate my cave – but rather, I was so concerned with getting out, that I was not doing anything to sustain life IN the cave. As in gather firewood. Water. Food. I had thought that my stay in the cave was very short term so I had not prepared nor done anything to sustain life. At all. And I kept not preparing. Because I kept looking down the rainbow for that pot of gold. And all the while the pot of gold was right here.
“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” John 10:10
Jesus said these words to remind us of what we have in Him. But I was allowing the thief to rob my joy by robbing my focus. My focus and much of my energy was spent on trying to do whatever it took to get out of my circumstance. Therefore, my joy was being sucked out little by little. Because no matter how hard I tried, I was stuck. No amount of effort could change anything. Nothing. In fact, things are actually worse.
But, if I flip a switch, I stop chasing after that which is not mine to begin with. Jesus came to give abundant life. Why am I not living that abundant life now? Because I bought the lie that the abundant life is on the other side of the rainbow. When in fact, the abundant life is now. I need to change my definition of abundant, so that it is in line with what Jesus defines as abundant.
Everything that happens in my life filters through my Father’s Sovereign hand. Everything. So, my current situation with my feet is from Him. He gives me everything I need. Psalm 23 says that the LORD is my Shepherd, I shall lack nothing, NOTHING. So, my feet are just exactly where He wants me to be. In this cave. In this place that seems desolate, when it actually has growth. My growth. And, the abundance? It is Jesus Himself. He is here. Just like the LORD led the Israelites into the wilderness and DID NOT abandon them, the same holds true for me. And for you.
I am not stuck. I am resting. I am still. In a cave, yes. But my mindset has changed. I am not looking to get to the other side. I am choosing to enjoy life now. Abundant life that Jesus gives.