When You’re Sick and Tired of Wilderness Living and Just Want Out

The Book says he was starving. Jesus, that is, after being taken to a wilderness place.
A difficult place.

I’ve been there too…empty…tired…depleted…hungry…

Eat, the Devil said. Chiding Jesus on; playing to his vulnerable place. But Jesus refused; and chose hunger over surrender.

All the while I’ll devour anything to fill the void; numb the pain. Shopping…Hot Tamales…Tiny House Hunters…computer puzzles…

His body weakened.

            So has mine.

Jump, the enemy taunted. But instead of jumping, Jesus yielded a Sword. The Word of God. And dodged another offer.

I so want to jump…throw in the towel…move to Idaho…or maybe Bora Bora, where there aren’t quite as many bugs…

Let me take care of you, the adversary suggests to Jesus. Trust me. Not God.

He suggests that to me too. All the time.

Except I often fail. Jesus didn’t.

“The Test was over. The Devil left.
And in his place, angels!
Angels came and took care of Jesus’ needs.”
 Matt. 4:11, MSG

Tired. Depleted. Hungry. Vulnerable. That’s what Jesus no doubt felt while he was being tempted in the wilderness for forty days and forty nights (Matt. 4:1-11).

That’s what we often feel like when we’re stuck in the wild times, trying to figure out what the heck is going on,

because an adversary is trying, oh, so hard to keep us down…because life can be just plain crappy…because we do really dumb things to ourselves and others…

Any way you slice it, wandering in the same uncomfortable situation for what seems like forever, battling the same demons, hungry for something more, uncomfortable and alone, just plain sucks. Jesus knows. He was there too.

Not only that, he knows that the temptations to alleviate the pain come in all shapes and sizes…

  • Eat. Feed your flesh. Eat the chocolate. Drink the drink. Take the pill. You’ll feel much better…
  • Jump. Give up. On life. On him. On her. On yourself. Bailing out is so much easier than balancing the tightrope of discipline, bravery, selflessness and hard work…
  • Rely on others. Or yourself. But, by no means, God. I mean, where the heck is he when you need him, anyway? You certainly can’t trust him…

Yes. The enticements to get ourselves out of the wastelands, at any cost, just to feel better, are endless.

But, look again…

“The Test was over. The Devil left.
And in his place, angels!
Angels came and took care of Jesus’ needs.”
Matt. 4:11

Relief was not given during the test. Like we think it should. And expect it to.

It was given after.

Only after the devil left, when Jesus had finished the trial, was he was attended to. Fed and comforted; cared for and strengthened.

And so, I wonder…

What if we chose to stay in the wilderness, where it’s confusing, uncomfortable, and seemingly pointless, and tolerate all those yucky feelings, instead of always trying to escape pain?

What if we chose hunger over surrender?

Truth instead of defeat?

God instead of self-reliance?

What if we dared to trust that our wilderness journeys just might be good for us? To shape us? Change us? Make us stronger?


After all, the muscle only grows after it has been broken down. Which can be very painful.

The seed turns into a flower after it has died and has been buried; concealed and forgotten. With new growth often taking a very long time.

Perhaps we’d actually find relief, peace, and feel better, if we’d lean into the wilderness situations we’re in, accept them, deal with them, (maybe even embrace them?), instead of always trying to circumvent or dilute them.

And trust that God, always being ridiculously good, full of love, mercy and grace, really does care for us.

And when the time is right, will show us the way out.

Today, weary from being in a wilderness place, I choose less-than-wonderful feelings. I choose hunger. Truth. Hope. Anticipation.

And I feel a bit better already. :)

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Let there be Light (Or, maybe NOT.)

I was warned. I knew it was coming, I just didn’t properly estimate how dark the impending darkness was going to be.

We never do.

I had received a letter from our electric company telling us there was going to be a power outage on an upcoming date, from about 11:00 p.m. to around 5:00 a.m. (You know, give or take a few hours.) That would have been fine and dandy except this particular night we were going to be getting up at 3:30 in the morning to get ready to catch a plane. (Not the most optimal time to have a power outage.)

Since there was a chance the power would come back on right before we’d be leaving, and being the extreme type-A, exceptionally organized, need-to-be-prepared person that I am, I made my mental list of things we’d need to do before we left our house if we were so fortunate to regain power: reset the sprinkler system with the proper time, reset the automatic light timers, and so forth. I felt quite proud of my dang self.

Except I forgot one thing.

It didn’t dawn on me until right before my alarm went off that I would be waking up to complete darkness. And then showering in complete darkness. And then putting on my makeup in complete darkness. And then finishing my packing in complete darkness.

There wasn’t a lick of moon-shine to be seen. Not even a sliver.

It was a scream. Literally.

The instant I woke up, I freaked out and stared into the blackness before me in complete horror. Makeup in the dark???? In my sleep deprived state, I couldn’t think of anything worse.

Thank goodness for cell phones because they have this handy-dandy flashlight so you can see three inches in front of you. Thank goodness for brilliant dad’s, because they give their daughter’s killer flashlights that are so powerful, they’ll burn your retinas if they make it three inches from your eyes. And thank goodness I love candles, because I have about fifteen in my bathroom.

It was with these multiple sources of light that I did my best to wash up and beautify my anxious self. The kicker was, they worked quite well. Actually, a little too well.

Have you ever held a flashlight right up to your face in front of a magnified mirror? Talk about a literal scream. Every flaw, every wrinkle, every…well, you fill in the blank. I was even more mortified than when I had first awakened and thought I wouldn’t be able to see myself at all.

But that’s what light does. It reveals.

On the plane ride to New Orleans, it got me thinking…How much light am I willing to shed on my insides? To what extent do I want to see the truth about who I am? Do I typically use candlelight or am I willing to withstand a burn-your-retinas-out kind of light?

Seems to me we all have a choice as to how much light we’re willing to engage with, the primary one for Christ-followers being God’s Word…

Your word is a lamp for my feet and a light on my path.
Psalm 119:105

But there are other great sources of light as well: podcasts, churches, personal growth books, friends who are cool enough to be honest with you…

All of them wonderful. Except, there’s a catch:

Did you know you can read the Bible and never use it to expose your flaws so you can make some much-needed adjustments? (The Pharisees were great at this.) Or go to church once in a while but never get involved enough to let it change you? Or be in a small group but never be authentic enough to let others know the real you?

It’s interesting. I always had a handy-dandy flashlight on my phone, and the super-cool one my dad bought me that’s in my nightstand, but I had never held either of them up to my face before.

I had never let the light get close enough to reveal my unique imperfections.

And more than that, the more light I held up to my face, the more imperfections I saw. (Yahoo.) And I realized something through all of this: that it’s not a matter of whether we’re living in the “light” or the “darkness,” but just how much light are we willing to have shed on us…

Some of us content living our lives by candlelight that makes us look good no matter what; some of us braving light that could fry our eyes out; and others of us at various places in between.

Personally, as painful as it is, I don’t want to live fooling myself. After all, we only have one life; no do-overs, no dress-rehearsals.

I want the kind of light that shows me what needs to be changed – so that it can be changed.

So bring on the Word. Bring on the podcasts, awesome friends, books, and every other fry-your-eyes-out kind of light. I’m ready to use them to my advantage; I hope you are too. :)

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