The Wasteland: Did You Miss It?
“Forget the former things do not dwell on the past See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland.” Isaiah 43: 18 More…
I sat down this week with a couple guys one being a very close friend the other being his son and we had some time to talk about their families journey through divorce. It was quite a legacy. Like any family they had their moments and the first few years were especially tough on all. Mom and dad had to figure out a new life without each other and the kids had to figure out life living with one parent and then the other parent the “see saw” process of raising kids in what the system refers to as the non-custodial vs. custodial parent. That’s one tough journey. I could relate to from my own experience with divorce and being a non-custodial parent myself.
No wonder God hates divorce. Don’t miss that, God hates divorce.
God has emotions and obviously feelings of a supernatural nature and how they coexist with his deity I don’t know, but our God is a God with feelings, with emotions and with the commitment to his people on earth that represent a perfect faithful spouse for us, even when we are unfaithful. If we take an honest look at ourselves the reality of just how unfaithful we are is readily apparent.
But that wasn’t the end of my friend’s story or the story of his son. What was years that undoubtedly felt like a “The Wasteland” with little or no progress or minimal reprieves in the midst of difficulty became a story of God writing His story in their lives and it’s quite amazing! You see my friend’s son, he became a pastor, my friend remarried and somehow in the grace of God all of the family ended up attending the same church years after the initial chaos of the families breakup as God worked His intention in their lives. I mean all the family, my friend, his ex wife, his new wife and all the kids that came along with the dynamics of a blended family! All under the same church roof! What’s more they’re open and transparent about how God wrote this story of forgiveness and restoration in their lives. It’s quite amazing. It’s very much out of the norm for us as humans and very much at the heart of what God’s work with broken people can look like.
We wonder what in the world is Gods intention for us in this life? Well Jesus told us exactly what it was. “This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent..” John 17: 3 Why? Well without stating the obvious what explodes across the face of history is just how much God actually loves the world. He never gave up on it. When we seek the intention of God, which He has told us is coming face to face with the reality of Jesus Christ what does it take to actually know Him? It’s easy to say the words “God I’m sorry and I embrace your offer of forgiveness through your Son,” but what does it mean to know Jesus Christ? Well I do know this, here’s what it doesn’t mean. It doesn’t mean racking up a bunch of head knowledge about God because that would be bringing the nature of the supernatural down to our level. Reading the Bibles good of course but we can actually read the Bible and it can have no meaning for us at all. No… we always get drawn back to the intention of God, which is “To know Him in and through His Son Jesus Christ.”
I’ve found that’s the hardest part of the journey. Intimately knowing Jesus in the depth of my soul and spirit and then having such a transformation that it turns me into something that presents Christ image in my life. I think Ezekiel 36: 26 “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh gives us a hint of what this process looks like, Knowing God, or His Son Jesus is handled by God. He gives us the new heart, He gives us His Spirit which begins to communicate with us bringing to remembrance the things of God, the things of Jesus in his actions, his words, his revelations of supernatural truth and his teachings. Make note of this. God reveals his Son to us on His terms, and just because we didn’t actually sit at the feet of Jesus physically two thousand years ago doesn’t change the fact God still introduces His Son as a groom to us in an intimate relationship and we are like the bride responding back to the perfect grooms commitment to us. Have you ever wondered why so often God refers to this relationship this way? Bride to groom, groom to bride. It’s the picture of marriage deliberately in all it’s original perfection when our first parents walked in intimacy with Him… before rebellion entered the world. God’s message is crystal clear, “That’s what I want to have with you through my Son” intimacy like a marriage.
Frankly, we back off from this offer of intimacy on a regular basis. Think of how many people in your life reflect that type of intimacy with God? How about us? Does our life reflect that type of intimacy with God or did we hang our hat on salvation and never grew in our relationship with God? What broke up our marriage to God? Each one of us has a different spouse who we cheated on with God, ouch I know that hurts. But the relationship, with God, with His Son, it’s like a marriage, that’s how God depicts it. Now some of the hard things Jesus said become a little clearer, “He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me; and he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me.” Matt 10 37 God’s not telling us to dispose of people in this verse He knows it’s only in loving Him will we be able to love others in the way He loves us. The fact Jesus left out the spouse in that verse speaks volumes as the intimacy portrayed in marriage is the one God seeks with his children. We can place our spouse before God of course and we shouldn’t. Be rest assured if we’re doing marriage right its the greatest expression of the relationship God seeks with us. That’s why He set it up in the first place . So marriage as a relationship on this earth as an relational expression of who God is as it takes unconditional commitment to each other to pull it off. I’m not sure what was worse… life before Christ or the barrenness “The Wasteland” of my faith for years after salvation when I simple chose not to grow. Well after putting it that way, it’s the former.
Yet even when I was unfaithful or trivially treating grace, God was always faithful. That’s the picture of the scripture today, God’s faithfulness, His commitment, it’s unrelenting.
“Forget the former things do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland.” That statement is made in the midst of a nation “gone awry.” The former things referred to if you missed it were Israel’s painful group of centuries receiving a spiritual beat down from God for chronic unfaithfulness on their part. Just like us, they had the tendency to take God for granted, and just like us God used “The Wasteland” to get their attention.
I can’t help but think of my friends journey post divorce and reflecting on my own and how both of us perceived these times of “The Wasteland.” They hurt, really… like hell because that’s exactly where the pain came from but it was a pain God knows despite hells attempt to wreck and ruin God in no way is limited or thwarted by the efforts of evil to promote pain and destruction in the world He created. He makes good of the wasteland, every time, every circumstance, for every human being. That’s right don’t miss this; all of it the good, the bad, the tragic, are all used by God to bring about something better, a path out of the waste that leads to the stream in the desert. Are we looking for the possibility?
When I was 13, I was out hunting in wild boar in Arizona.. If you’re familiar with the great southwestern desert of the Unites States its one dry place! Late one morning while doing a sweep around the foot of a desert mountain I was walking up and down the ridge “spines” that protruded off the mountain until they leveled out on the desert floor anywhere between a quarter to half a mile in length. My traverse had me going straight up and straight down the other side so when I got to the top I might stumble on some boar in the gully in front of me. I topped one particular ridge and down before me in the midst of one of the driest parts of the desert I had ever seen was a stream. It was about 15 to 20 feet across and maybe 4 to 6 inches in depth and it went as far right and as far left as I could see. As the desert is quiet, almost supernaturally so, I could hear the water rippling over the small rock stream bed. I remember (this was years before I accepted Christ as my personal savior) how “Holy” the moment was struck at the presence of God somehow in the midst of this natural oxymoron; a crystal clear stream winding its way through a barren desert.
I never found the stream again. We did return to hunt their a couple times after the fact. But almost 40 years later I never, forgot that moment. Today I can still hear the water to, churning over the pebbles. Like the stream with no beginning and no end, God has been at work all my life, saturating me with His intention. To know his Son Jesus. I did at sixteen finally made a personal commitment to Jesus Christ and despite my many failures (including divorce) God has been faithful sending His stream in the midst of my wastelands to teach me of His perfect intention. His intention wasn’t the lessons learned from the pains of life as it was the depth of His consistent love all through the process and the journey and here I am now at 51 with few answers save the understanding of “This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.
Thank You Jesus, from the depth of my sporadic heart.
J.P Grier is a writer at SentinelforChrist com – Sentinel For Christ is a network of Christian men helping each other to press deeper in Christ.