For I am about to do something new. See, I have already begun! Do you not see it? I will make a pathway through the wilderness. I will create rivers in the dry wasteland. Isaiah 43:18
And after the earthquake there was a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire there was the sound of a gentle whisper. When Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his cloak and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave.
And a voice said, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” 1 Kings 19:12-13
Growing up a summer tradition for our family was participating in a local charity road race. We’d race around town going from clue to clue hoping to get to the finish line the fastest. Our propensity to argue over tasks and inability to read a map often doomed us from the beginning.
In this mashup of Smokey and The Bandit meets The Amazing Race, we would inevitably end up lost on the side of some dirt road in the middle of nowhere. Like clockwork, my younger brother would pipe in from the back seat, “MOM!…Where are we?”
From time to time, we all find ourselves lost. We wander down paths we didn’t intend or we trek down well-worn roads that feel comfortable, even if they’re leading us in the wrong direction. The Bible is filled with stories of people who are all alone: hurt, lost, confused, worried and angry. The wilderness and wasteland have become their home.
And in every occasion, God shows up and asks them a question: “Why are you here?” He does this not to pile on more guilt and shame or make them feel less than. God inquires to expose their heart so He can deal with the issue at hand. He does the same for us. In order for Him to lay down the path in the wilderness or bring water to the wasteland, it requires us to first confront our surroundings. What we believe about our current place determines our way into the future.
If we believe we are where we are because of our choices, we’ll punish ourselves or try to earn our way forward. On the other hand, if we believe we were led into the wilderness because of our circumstances, we may end up blaming God or others. Either way, we lose hope, faith, purpose, and direction – the very things that have the possibility to sustain us.
“Why are you here?” can be a frightening question, but it also has the power to liberate and free us. By being vulnerable and putting words to what is taking place inside our heart, we have the opportunity to catch a glimpse of its true state. The very act of verbalizing our thoughts shrinks the boundaries of the wilderness and places us one step closer to a new hope and a new way. Every journey begins by recognizing our starting point.
- As the summer begins, how would you describe the place you find yourself in?
- Why are you residing in this place and what brought you here?
God, help me to pay attention to my surroundings. Let me slow down long enough to see the places that my words, actions and choices have led me. Let me be vulnerable with You, knowing my transparency will be met with unconditional love, unfathomable mercy, and unending grace. Help me to step into the new future You have for me. In Your name, Jesus. Amen.