Why the Wilderness?

”Who is this coming up from the wilderness, leaning on the one she loves?”

Song of Songs 8:5

The wilderness is a harsh place. Barren, threatening and stretching for miles. The only way for the wilderness to be enjoyable is if you are with someone you delight in. The wilderness caters to placing all focus on what is in your possession and what is not. If you have water in the wilderness, you treasure it far more than when carrying a large jug by flowing streams. So it is with us who have Christ as our companion— our Living Water. We are led into new wildernesses by His hand time and again. Here we discover new treasures of God’s grace that could not be appreciated as fully anywhere else. We learn to love the presence of Christ more than our surroundings. Seeing the threats coming our way with confidence because of His omnipotence working on our behalf.

But let’s think of one who has access to all the protection, guidance, and comfort of Christ’s companionship, yet runs from it while in the wilderness. Brought to the desert to be trained, she runs from her Teacher, leaving her to the harsh ways of her surroundings with no true resources or strength. We would think she is a looney for this but many of us are doing this very thing. Running from our source of all comfort— running from the safety of God’s presence.

The wilderness is survived by experts. Only the woman who learns to lean upon the Great Expert of all His creation will come up out of her circumstances still in tact. Picture her far off— face weary, mouth a little dry, clothes worn down, and feet dragging. Yet she is leaning on a Man who is undeterred by the harshness of life. Strong and ever-lending is He. Never once growing tired or losing stamina. Coming up from such a harsh season, she is not alone. Now she knows more of Christ’s strength and more of her weakness. More of His wisdom, more of her foolishness. More attuned to her proclivity to wander, more of His covenantal love and faithfulness.

Remember today that in the leaning there is learning. And the world will see this woman on her way out of life’s harsh dealings and sin’s violent attempts, leaning on the Son of Man. They will see how Love leads.

This is a word for us struggling on our own strength. This is a plea to learn to lean again. That in our weakness the world would see His unyielding strength and desire to know this kind of love.

May it be so, Lord. Teach us to lean. May that be the second nature of our souls. We so often want to do it on our own and avoid Your strength. Help us to follow where You say is best. To rest when You say rest. To work when you say work. To speak when you lead us to speak. To trust your expertise in the wilderness that we may come forth more like You, more in love with You, leaning with abandon upon Your strength and wisdom. Help us to lean again. Amen.