I am walking the dusty plains of my life, and I can see from this perspective the mountains and valleys that I have traversed to get to this point. As I stop to consider my journey, I long for the days that required something of me. But now as I stand here and pivot around the points of the compass, all I see is the lonely prairie—the unfertile land of living for myself.
I do not know what started all this introspection. Perhaps it was the recent death of an acquaintance. He was somebody I commuted with on the ferry. We were not close friends, but we knew each other’s names, and we both rode motorcycles. A few months ago, I realized I had not seen him in a while, and I thought it strange, so I inquired about him from some of his friends. What I found out was not what I had expected. I thought he had maybe lost his job or simply changed his commuting times. But when I found out he had just died of cancer the week before, my heart dropped on the floor. He was only a year older than me. In the wake of his death, he left behind a nine-year-old daughter—orphaned now because her mother died of cancer a few years ago. It was during one of our brief conversations that he told me the story of his wife’s death. I regret now not getting to know him better.
Two days ago a phone call brought news of another victim of cancer. And if that was not enough, a trip home last week turned tragic as I witnessed a car traveling in the opposite direction leave the road and flip over on its roof in the middle of the freeway, trapping the occupants inside. I kept driving through the cloud of dust from the collision at 60 miles per hour, holding the wheel tightly while I whispered a prayer for those involved and glanced in the rearview mirror at my two young daughters. I realized at that moment how much they depend on me and trust in my ability to get them home safely.
How did I get to this point? My life seems to have stalled, and a unique perspective has presented itself and caused me to slow down, to look around and to evaluate how I am living my life. Death is circling me, taunting me from the sidelines as I wrestle with issues of life and death and the assurance of my salvation. I am concerned that I am becoming indifferent toward my beliefs. I can sense the hardness of my heart. This is not the way I want to live. Upset about the pace of things, unsettled in my decisions, I am wandering around, kicking up dust, thinking about me.
I start to think about Him. Even in my loneliness I can sense that He is there. I feel isolated though I am not alone. I have tasted the fruits of my salvation, but I have also doubted my faith. I have seen the Promised Land, yet here I am, feeling as if I am stuck on the side of the road of my life. Broken down and stranded, I realize that I need help. I know that each decision I have made to chase after the things of this world was a step away from Him. I have not trusted Him when I should have. At times I have closed my ears to listening and turned my back on Him. Temptation visits me frequently. My heart is weighed down by sin. I have been embittered by the hypocrisy and dysfunctional behavior of Christians. I am one of them. I have wandered from the flock, but not out of range of His voice. He has come looking for me to gather me back into the fold. I cannot hide from Him anymore.
I am thankful that He is so gracious to let me explore the boundaries of our relationship. He will let me wander, but He will not let me go. He will allow my heart to be broken, my relationships to be shattered, my own security to be questioned in order to draw me back to Himself. I have been given an insight into what it is like not to know Him, to be separated from Him, to be alone. Like a child, I desire to find rest in the comforting arms of my Father. I want to trust Him again to get me home safely.
I want to remember this place of isolation and what has brought me here. I need to humble myself. I look around one last time, to reflect on the decisions that have brought me to this spiritual flatland. I repent and ask for forgiveness. He gives it without question. I stand up renewed and slap the dust from my pant legs. And for the first time in a long while, I make a decision that feels right. I turn in the direction of His voice, and by faith, I start walking.
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