There is a time, after a thunder storm, when it isn’t nice enough to make outdoor plans, but it is nice enough to venture outside and smell the clean, fresh air. A time when you can sense that the storm has literally “cleared the air”. Birds are singing and the air smells fresh and it feels crisp on your skin, like an electricity that is still lingering. You can see and hear the remnants of the storm all around. In fact, as you stand outside, you feel the last rain drops falling from the sky or dropping to the ground from a tree branch blowing in the left-over breeze. It is a time of possibility, hoping to be able to venture back outside. Although it isn’t quite time yet, there is still caution that needs to be exercised and preparations that need to be made. After all, there might be another storm coming over the horizon.
This accurately describes where I currently find myself. I feel very good and just recently I began to get the itch to get back into the game. Yet, I am very aware that I still have a great deal of healing to do, especially in the area of stamina. I feel good, but it doesn’t take much to tucker me out. I feel good, but I have lost muscle tone, range of motion and endurance over the last three months. I gave myself three months from transplant to be back in the saddle, which my doctor’s confirmed would be a “best case” scenario. That would put me back on September 11 (Quite a date!) I know in my mind that I need to give myself permission to lay low until then, but myself isn’t in total agreement. Myself wants to get back to life, get back to preaching, teaching and the physical activity needed to build back up my body. Yet, when I dabble I still feel those last lingering rain drops, I hear the distant thunder and I am reminded that I still need a little more time.
This is the wilderness. That place that isn’t your home-to-be, a transient space where you aren’t settled, but you long-to-be. Every person knows about the wilderness. One doesn’t need to undergo a heart transplant in order to understand what I am saying. Every person knows what it is like to live in the wilderness, knowing that there is something more, but not knowing what that more happens to be. It is a time of possibility, but it also a time of frustration. It is a time that requires patience and endurance. It is time of following which is a very new discipline for many of us.
Here is the rub. The wilderness is where you find God. No, this isn’t a catchy marketing slogan, but it is the cold, hard truth. We see it in the Bible – Moses had to leave Egypt, go to the wilderness and become a shepherd in order to find God. Abraham had to leave his country. King David didn’t physically go into the wilderness, but after he committed adultery and murder, he sure went into a spiritual wilderness. And over and over again we read that Jesus went into a deserted place in order to pray. We don’t like to talk about it, but in our wilderness places is where we find God. Yes, we would much rather avoid the wilderness places in our lives. In fact, we will do almost anything within our power to avoid the wilderness places in our lives. We will even deny that we are living in the wilderness when we are smack dab in the middle of it, for fear of appearing weak or out of control in some way. Yet, it is exactly this weakness and our out of controlness that serves as the canvas in which God paints a new reality. Deny the wilderness and you deny the canvas. Deny the canvas and you will miss out on the work of art that can be your life.
So, from one blank canvas to another, be patient. Live in your wilderness knowing that God is up to something. Let him paint. Let him create. Let him strengthen and restore. There will come a day when my wilderness journey will be over and I will return to the land of the living, working, playing and praying. Until then, my job is to get stronger and to watch as God paints a new work of art on the canvas of my life.