Surviving the wilderness

I have almost caught up to the 21st century. I say almost because it takes me 10 times longer to send a text message than my daughter and I don’t have a smart phone yet. But I do have an iPod and learned to successfully download music and podcasts. It took me all day (don’t laugh) but I was rather proud of myself. It didn’t help that the manual was written by a bunch of teenagers who can’t seem to understand that anyone older than 50 needs everything spelled out in simple terms. The manual seemed to assume I actually had prior knowledge of these touchy feely things.

Now that I’ve mastered downloading, I’ve been listening to podcasts and recordings of conference presentations while I walk. One speech by Amy Warren Hilliker, Rick and Kay Warren’s daughter, gave helpful information about surviving time in the wilderness. She talked about the Israelites who weren’t allowed to walk around the wilderness but had to go through it and how our lives are often like that. We have to go through the difficult times even though we wish and pray we can somehow go around, over or under them.

Hilliker gave five points to help us go through these times of wandering in our own wilderness: seek solitude, practice contemplation, create community, pursue service and surrender to Jesus. This is nothing new but it’s nice to be reminded sometimes, isn’t it?

When we hear someone talk about silence and solitude, most of us nod our heads and think, yes, I need to do that. How many of us have good intentions but never seem to get around to spending quiet time with God? We need to put it on the calendar and give it priority. Just you and him, in real solitude and silence, taking time to contemplate God and his ways.

We need real friends, garbage friends, as speaker Kathleen Hart calls them. Maybe we should go back to simpler times, when women got together to wash their clothes in the river. Wait, not that far back! We can still wash clothes in the machine, but the talking together would be great. When was the last time you and a friend solved the world’s problems over tea or coffee? Or even chatted online? Community and service keep us in touch with the people in our lives. Distance is no problem now. Get together with someone soon.

And then there’s surrender. Most of us like to be in control, even though we know we don’t have much control over most things in our lives. When we worry, we think we’re exerting control, when we’re only causing stress to ourselves and those around us. It takes time, but surrendering to God means we learn—sometimes the hard way—to depend on him and not on our own power. We learn to choose joy instead of worry and let him take care of what we know deep down we can’t control.

Our difficulties and trials must be faced, head on, no going around them. Practicing these five things can help us enjoy the wonders of the wilderness and be thankful God knows the way through. Just follow him.

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