Into the Wilderness

photo by Thomas commons There are times in my life when the Lord has drawn me into the wilderness. I have gone, often against my will, kicking and screaming. Things seem to be going well, I don't want to leave the party. I don't understand.

In high school, during one of my first deep desert periods, I read these verses with new eyes:

"Therefore, behold, I will allure her, Bring her into the wilderness And speak kindly to her.

Then I will give her her vineyards from there, And the valley of Achor as a door of hope. And she will sing there as in the days of her youth, As in the day when she came up from the land of Egypt.

It will come about in that day, declares the LORD, That you will call Me Ishi And will no longer call Me Baali.

For I will remove the names of the Baals from her mouth, So that they will be mentioned by their names no more."

(Hosea 2:14-17)

I return to this passage the way I continue to return to the desert. I know what it is to be allured by the Lord. I know what His voice sounds like as He speaks kindly to me.

Over the years, I've studied these verses in more depth. I have discovered that the valley of Achor (called a door of hope in this passage) is translated to the valley of trouble. I know a few things about wine as well. I know that it is difficult for wine to grow in a desert. Grapes, like people, are finicky, not choosing to flourish everywhere.

I have seen this, as I've walked with the Lord. I have seen Him take valleys of trouble and turn them into hope. I have seen Him bring wine to flow out of the desert.

photo by commons

I learned the meaning of the words "Ishi" and "Baali." Here the Lord says that she will call Him her husband, no longer her owner. The relationship changes from fear and servitude, to protection and love.

Related to the word "Baali," God promises to remove the names of the Baals (the false God flavor of the time) from her mouth. Her gods had become her owners.

I am learning to listen as God allures me into the wilderness. Instead of fighting, I try to follow willingly. I have come to know the peace of being under the wings of my God, of resting in Him, of allowing a song to bubble up in me, especially when it's been some time since my last harmony.

I still dislike the valley of trouble, but I have found the wine of the wilderness to be choice and rare. I would much rather have the riches of a relationship with God than serve my current idol.

The wilderness is a paradox for me. It feels safe, though it is often a place of testing. It is dry and harsh, but it is there that I can more clearly see the wells God has provided, at the right time. There is trouble mixed with hope, and singing, songs of freedom, just like the ones I sung when I was first set free.