Devotion:: Feeling the Wilderness

Often when I summit a mountain, I will take my shoes and socks off so that I can feel the earth.

Recently, I have come to the conclusion that nature was meant to be felt. I will run shirtless so I can feel the branches scratching across my body. I will run in the rain to feel the soul cleansing water pouring over me. I will dunk myself into a 38 degree waterfall in order to awaken my dull senses.

However, most of modernity is about distancing us from nature. We abhor the uncomfortable. We want extra cushion in our running shoes, more pillows for our beds, a water-repellant jacket for when it rains, heat for the cold nights and air conditioning for the hot summers. One hundred years ago the average home temperature was 57 degrees. Now, no matter what is happening outdoors, our thermostats rarely deviate from one or two degrees. We have distanced ourselves from the wildness of nature.

I believe our comfortable stasis in life has become detrimental to hearing God’s desire for us.

We were born into the Garden of Eden naked. We were meant to feel the natural surroundings of this world because it would remind us that we are mortal, dependent creatures who need the constant and abiding care of our Creator.

When we tried to take control and deviate from God’s desire for our lives we ended up hiding and ashamed. We covered ourselves creating a barrier between us and God and one another. We layered on fig leaves hoping to find comfort from the uncomfortableness.

However, in scripture, whenever men became comfortable in their palaces, God would call them out into the wilderness. It was out in the barren desert that God would speak clearly to them. It was in the valley of the shadow of death that we discover that He is there with us. The Hebrew root for wilderness means “Word” because it is in the wilderness that God’s word speaks to us.

Moses had to leave the Pharaoh’s house to encounter the burning bush. David had to leave the kingdom of Saul in order to be prepared to lead the people of Israel. Paul had to leave his self-righteous throne and enter the house of his enemy to regain his vision for life. They left the comfortable in order to discover the life God had called them to live.

In fact, Jesus Christ left the palace of His Father’s home in order to experience the wildness of our human existence. The Prince of Peace, King of Kings was born into a feeding trough; a dirty, stinking, scratchy, messy bed.

It is here in the wilderness and wildness of life that God is able to speak most clearly and directly to our hearts. This is because when He has stripped away all of our pretenses, all of our pride, our inflated ego and our false sense of power then we are prepared to be remade by Him in His image.

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