Journal Entry // November 25, 2021
It was I who knew you in the wilderness, in the land of drought;  but when they had grazed, they became full, they were filled, and their heart was lifted up; therefore they forgot me.Hosea 13:5-6 ESV
As I have wandered through my own time in the wilderness, I can relate to this declaration that God knew Israel intimately during their trials. During my wilderness and drought, it could feel as though I was left alone and isolated at times. Depression easily set in and took root in my heart and mind, altering my perceptions of time and reality. But it was God who knew me during this time. It was in the wilderness and drought that my intimacy with the Lord grew more deeply with a sharp intensity.
Coming out of the wilderness has been a concern for me. The wilderness and drought is not an easy place to live day in and day out, but there is great comfort in watching God continually provide and meet my needs. This is true in all of life but in the wilderness, I am not distracted as easily. I can easily see God moving or not moving. Prayer is a priority and intimacy with Jesus becomes richer.
As God has begun to move me out of the wilderness and drought, I have seen this rich intimacy become more strained and difficult. That’s what this verse is reminding me… warning me. For this was my heart prior to my wilderness, I forgot God. I can look back now and see myself going through the motions of religion. I know the words to say and actions to perform. It’s so easy to wear a mask and present myself as a lie or half-truth. Convincing everyone that all is well with my soul. Even myself.
So when God brought me to my wilderness wandering, the first wall to be torn down was the half-truths that I believed about myself. My sin was exposed not only to others in a small way, but to myself. Slowly through the wilderness, God plumbed the depth of the darkness in my heart. Gradually revealing the resident sin thriving in the dark corners of my heart. And in the wilderness he was with me the whole time. Challenging me, comforting me, encouraging me, chastising me… all to bring the light of the gospel to the far reaches of my heart.
Now as I come out of the wilderness, I trust that I am ready. I trust that I will keep these lessons from the wilderness fresh in my mind. That I will not fill myself with the world and so forget God again. I am a bit worried to be honest. My flesh is so deceptive and I am so easily duped. It worries me that my heart will once again coddle the darkness within. That I will become complacent with “minor” sins. Minor sins that always find a way to grow, bringing death and destruction.
Humility with honesty. This is the lesson learned in the wilderness. The grace of God abounds over and above sin. God’s grace never runs dry and is always sufficient. As I am honest with myself about my failure and sin, I can come to Jesus in humility. He will not reject me. He loves me. He cares for me. He keeps me. My prayer is that even out of the wilderness, I will continue to have a wilderness mindset. A sojourner in exile mentality. Humble and honest before the Lord in all my ways.