Testing in the wilderness
By Ariane Williams
Ever felt like something halted your freedom? I don’t know about you, but the pandemic exposed the empty areas within my life. It left me with an unexplainable void. I had no choice but to confront those areas but was not prepared for the how. Does your spirit feel un-cultivated, uninhabited and inhospitable, neglected or abandoned based on your circumstances, based on your past mistakes, based on your choices? I felt like my past grabbed a hammer and started to beat me down. I had no strength to get back up.
Sometimes, just walking away from all that God has for you seems so easy and simple. Sometimes, just walking away from all that God has for you makes you feel like you do not have to address those empty areas. The truth is that you have to address those empty areas to get to the areas of fullness within you. Recently, a friend of mine reminded me about the “Footprints in the Sand.” He reminded me of the “one set of footprints.” I then realized that when we become exhausted from walking, Jesus will meet us at the end of our footsteps to lift us with all of our weight and still have the strength to continue to walk. God is leading you into the wilderness hungry so that you can hunger for Him and so that He can feed you with the food to nourish the authentic assignment within you.
I have been having this one recurring dream that I am walking in the desert: tired, ragged and frustrated. In the middle of the desert, I come upon a glowing cross. When I get to the cross, I see Jesus on the cross. His head is bent; I cannot see His eyes or the fullness of His face. I see the dropping of blood fall and stain the sand. There is something behind the cross. As I get closer, I notice that I see the weight of my past, the weight of my mistakes, the weight of my heartbreaks, the weight of loss, the weight of my tears, the weight of denied promotions are all behind the cross, only I could not reach “the weight.” As I stood there, empty with only a shirt, rugged pants and no shoes, I was “weightless.” Jesus had taken all the weight that I thought was holding me down to move forward. He told me “go.” He told me that He was “holding” the weight for me so that I can do what I am called to do in Him. He is holding the weight for you. With that weight will come the testing in your wilderness.
What if I told you that the wilderness is not an external place but rather an internal place of discovery and testing. The importance of the wilderness is that it provides “protection of wild landscapes.” You are that landscape that God is protecting; there are so many different dimensions to your identity in Him. The wilderness has spectacular beauty just like the gift within you. I was in the desert as a sense of spiritual dryness in search of something. As we walk in the wilderness, we must remember that God is still here. God is still with you although you may have made so many mistakes. I was running away from His plan for my life because of the emptiness. Distractions will come in many forms to test your survival skills in the wilderness. Your wilderness is a journey. I encourage you to glance at your weight behind the cross; leave it there. Tighten your survival gear.
Ariane Williams is a teacher, minister, published author and liturgical dancer. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.