A Beautiful Wilderness

Most of us can be persuaded that there is some purpose in our pain. Trite, but well-meaning people quote Romans 8:28, “All things work together for good, for those that love God and are called according to His purpose.”

However, as I spiraled through loneliness, anorexia and depressions, I often wondered if I loved God enough for Him to plan good things for me. Perhaps, nothing could work out for me until I learned to express a more pure love for God.

In my pain, I kept making the same mistakes over and over and over. I chose other gods, gods of thinness, popularity, attention, perfection, admiration, fear and selfishness. My intentions became black and blue from abuse. Best laid plans of eating well tomorrow or moderating exercise were dashed with feeble strength. Every single day, I lied again, starved again.

Surely, God had banished me to this wilderness. I could see no avenues of hope, no yellow brick road leading out of my valley of the shadow of death. Perhaps it was simply time to follow the winding, ugly trail into faithless abyss and resignation.

However, I clung to a mirage that if I could by some strange means, clean myself up and present to God a hopeful situation, then He might help me.

“He withdrew to desolate places.”

Wait, you mean Jesus is here? Jesus is in a desolate place too? At least I’m in good company. So I sat down beside Jesus to recount my grievances. Maybe, just maybe, I could convince Him, with His good behavior, to plead my case before God. But, why was He here?

“Therefore, behold, I will allure her, and bring her into the wilderness, and speak tenderly to her.” Hosea 2:14

Wait, Jesus, you mean you led me here?

Jesus began to show me how many of His loved ones He had escorted into the wilderness so that it in the silence of a desolate place, they could hear His voice and see Him, unblinded by the chaos, glitter and glare of a seductive world. He spoke of Abraham and Joseph, Moses running from Pharaoh and becoming a shepherd, the nation of Israel, John the Baptist growing up in the wilderness, David fleeing from Saul, Elijah hiding from Jezebel, the disciples in Luke 9:12, Hagar as she prepared to watch Ishmael die and Jesus in His temptation. Jesus even taught in desolate places. (Mark 1:45)

“Do you see, Beloved? I brought you to the wilderness. Just like I was tempted in the wilderness, you have been too. And many, many times you have failed. But I did not. I redeemed every single one of  your failures in anorexia and faithlessness. And now, now you call me ‘My Husband.’ No longer do you call me ‘My Baal’ for all those old idols have been smashed. You no longer even remember their names. In the wilderness, I wed you to me. I betrothed you to me in righteousness and in justice and in steadfast love and in mercy and faithfulness. Now you know me!”

It’s true! In no other place could I have been stripped of all distractions. In no other place could I have so clearly heard His voice. In no other place but the wilderness would I have sat still enough to inhale His grandeur. In no other place could I have committed to Him with such abandon.

Oh my Lord! Other gods besides you have ruled over me, but your name alone I bring to remembrance. Is. 26:13

In the wilderness, I have heard you speak tenderly to me. And you have won my heart.

4 thoughts on “A Beautiful Wilderness

  1. Hi Abby, this is a beautiful piece, it sent shivers down my spine : many thanks !!
    I love Romans 8:28 and it was one of the corner-pieces in the jig-saw of building a new life.
    – God told Jeremiah : The plans I have for you are plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future
    – Joseph said to his brothers : you intended to harm me, but God intended it for good

    I also chased after the wrong things, nothing really bad, just things that were pointless and only brought depression. Now I know that what other people think of us is unimportant. On the other hand, what God thinks will guide us to fulfil our real purpose and make us happy for eternity. I share your belief that Jesus loves us more than we can imagine and I also believe that nothing we do will make him love us more or less : hey, it’s one thing less to worry about !! We can get on with fulfilling our purpose and try to be as much like Jesus as we possibly can. I try and think “what would Jesus say or do right now ?”. I don’t always succeed but I keep trying !

    Rick Warren said “We are products of our past but we don’t have to be prisoners of it”. This keeps ringing in my mind. When we let go of the past we can learn from it in a detached way. It was another corner piece.
    JOB 5 is another : a wonderful comment on life and what people make of it !

    Well, Jesus said “The truth will set you free”. Finally I found freedom and I think you have too !

    When the Holy Spirit controls our lives, he will produce this kind of fruit in us : love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.
    God wants us to have joy along with all the other things.

    kind regards


  2. David, thank you for the testimony and affirmation of God’s work in our lives! I feel like kin! (:
    And isn’t it wonderful that the Holy Spirit produces fruit, it is HIS work in us!

    1. Yes, definitely wonderful ! The first time someone spoke of Romans 8:28, I had deep depression and (ashamed to say) I just didn’t believe it. I wanted to believe it (I believed God and Jesus stood for all that is good), but felt like I was being punished, and almost like I didn’t deserve to recover. I could NOT imagine how anything good could come out of such pain

      However, the tiny, unexpected glimmers of light that occasionally appeared , gradually became more frequent and the light lasted longer. Like you, I found the best moments in quiet places doing things that I love, like windsurfing and skiing. Slowly things started to change and the balance shifted, there were more good days than bad days. Now life is great and everything seems to make more sense than ever before. Thank God that my lovely wife stuck with me, as did your husband. I can only try and imagine the horrors you went through, torturing your poor body as well as your mind.

      Someone had said to me to stop being my own worst enemy and become my own best friend. At the time I felt so guilty (for no particular reason) that I couldn’t do it, it made no sense. Later I did finally realise what it was about. If God made us in his image, it’s an insult to him not to look after ourselves. We are here to serve his purpose with the precious gifts he has given us. RW said : “Humility is not thinking less of yourself; it is thinking of yourself less”. So true !

      It’s great what you are doing in your writing Abby : it will help many people who still have a way to go, and is very warming to people with shared experiences and purposes, even on different continents (I’m in UK). Actually, I made lots of notes (sort of word of wisdom, collected from various people). If you want to send me an email, I’d be happy to share.

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