Verses for the Wilderness

I wake up the last four mornings barely able to breathe.

Panic clings close and all the unknown things lurking in the future loom large.

Suddenly, time has moved too quickly, and it isn’t slowing down and how can the oldest of my four be less than a year from middle school?

How can I be thisclose to 40?

Shouldn’t there be more time?

I wake up this morning and think of his dad. As the second hand clicked closer to 10:30 a.m. the memories did too.

The sound of the door opening.

The sound of his voice.

Celia’s breath catching.

Elias trying to roll over.

My frantic phone call to my best friend.

The story never changes, year after year.

These memories are solidified.

I wondered, as I ran last minute errands this afternoon, if I would still be grieving like this 50 years from now? Would the pain always feel this fresh?


This past week, the words for this year changed suddenly.

And I was okay with it, until I saw the verse that went along with it.

It’s been a long battle for me to fall in love with the pages of scripture. For so long portions of it were associated with people and events connected with pain. It was easy to skim, rather than dig. Easier to rush through rather than to sit long and slow.

The battle was slow and unrushed, and my love has grown deep and true. But there are still prickles of pain that snake up my spine when certain verses or words brush too close.

This verse is one of those.

In my kitchen, the day after Christmas, seated at my desk with my pen and journal in hand, I gave into the pain.

A few years ago, the year was named New, all tucked in with the verse found in Isaiah 43:19,

Behold, I am doing a new thing;
now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?
I will make a way in the wilderness
and rivers in the desert.
The verse for this year, while different, represents a portion of my life that is a wilderness – that has represented death and brokenness for so long. And so I wasn’t really surprised when both verses of scripture were laid out on the same page of a book under my nose while I sat there wrestling with pain filled memories and emotions.
I rush through books.
Because I want to know how the story ends.
I run away from pain.
Because I don’t want to live with the hurting.

I push against the unknown.

Because I want to know how it all turns out.

But that isn’t my place.

It’s Christ’s.

As I prayed over this year ahead, all I’ve sensed was a call to Be still.

Not “being still” in the sense of doing nothing, giving up, and burying what little talents I have in the ground and just waiting.

No, the call to Be still is one with a purpose.

God, through the Psalmist, calls out clearly,

Be still and know that I am God…

Being still walks hand in hand with action. It’s joined in with the action of knowing and this knowing has a very specific result – to know God is God in and over all things.
I don’t know what this coming year will look like.
But I know what my role is to be.
In all my living, in all the moments given,
my heart is to be in a posture of stillness, no matter how quickly everything around me spins.
The purpose of this life He has given me is to glorify and honor Him, yes.
even if the only glimpse I ever see is here on 4th Street.
So, I stand here, on the edge of the end of the year of Grace, ready to walk through the unknown wilderness of this coming, whirling year learning to Be still.
May I know Him more deeply at the end of it all.

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