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Enjoy the Wilderness

Happy December everyone!

It’s hard for me to believe we are nearing the end of 2016 already! Gosh time seems to fly nowadays. I turned 49 this year and I think I’m starting to feel it. According to my wife and kids every now and then I tell the same stories more than once. That’s scary. It makes me wonder if I should hide my own Easter eggs next year. Does this mean I’m accepting the fact I’m almost 50? Nope. I did get a letter the other day from the AARP offering me a discount to join. Jerks! Andria got a real good laugh out of it. I just shook my head, tore it up and conveniently ran to the cupboard to find chocolate. I think I’m handling it well! 

I guess one of the things I’ve struggled with the most off and on over the years is wanting to do/accomplish more. I can’t stand just letting the grass grow under my feet, so to speak. My brain is always searching in doing something better, quicker, or something new. I believe you’ve got to keep moving forward if you want to stay young and relevant. However, I’ve also come to realize that living like that can lead to a life of constantly doing. Never resting, never stopping, always working and never really content. There has to be a balance otherwise after awhile it ends up in a lot of surface-only relationships along with some unnecessary high blood pressure. This past Sunday at Your Church I was reading this verse found in Matthew 16;

Matthew 16:24
"Anyone who intends to come with me has to let me lead. You're not in the driver's seat; I am."

Hearing Jesus say this helps us put things in perspective – especially for people like me who like to keep moving. Allowing the Lord to lead us means knowing when to push forward and knowing when to stay put. It’s the same as the Israelites following the pillar of cloud by day and fire by night with the exception that our leading comes from within. It probably would be easier for some of us to have our own pillar of cloud leading us every day but here in Oregon it would be mistaken for smoking weed. Honestly, to be led inward by the Holy Spirit is really a bonus for us. It means we have to slow down and quiet ourselves long enough to listen to His voice. We give up the driver’s seat and let the Lord lead. More times than not the toughest part in letting Him lead is when our surroundings don’t look anything like we thought it was going to look. That can be downright brutal on the soul especially when the condemning voices in our head say things like, “If God was really in this than life wouldn’t be like this!” More chocolate please. We’ve all been there. What we forget is that God can lead us through the wilderness in order to get where we need to go. Believe me, the interstate would be 100 times faster but getting to our destination faster isn’t necessarily better – that’s why we have to let Him lead. Like I said, that can just be tough on the soul. It becomes the stage that builds character and strengthens resolve, or the place whereby we let it tear us apart. David the Psalmist was there. As a young man he knew he was made for something greater than tending sheep. Yet he knew what it was like to be forgotten. He grew to know what it was like to be hated and hunted. He used his wilderness experiences to write a song better known as Psalms 23; a psalm that describes what to do when you’ve got to stay put and hold it together. In the psalm David recounts how the Lord “made him” lie down in green pastures. How the Lord leads us beside still waters long enough to work on restoring, strengthening and repairing our souls. God does that for us. More often than not, only in the wilderness. That’s why faster and forward isn’t always better. 

Enjoy the wilderness. Embrace it. Grab a hot cup of coffee and take time to smell it. It gives the Lord a chance to work on us. 

Pastor Shian

Pastor ShianComment