Surviving the Wilderness

I have almost caught up to the 21st century. I say “almost” because I still don’t have a smart phone, and even on my non-smart phone it still takes me ten times longer than my daughter to send a text message. But I do have an iPod, and have learned to 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 high-tech 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 bypass 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 could somehow go around, over or under them.

Hilliker gave five points to help us go through these times of wilderness wandering: 1) seek solitude, 2) practice contemplation, 3) create community, 4) pursue service and 5) 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.” But most of us, despite our good intentions, never seem to get around to spending quiet time with God. If we’re going to get it done, we need to put it on the calendar and give it priority. Just us and God, 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! But 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. Why not 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. 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 that God knows the way through.

Tammy Tkach, 2011

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