“There is no event so commonplace but that God is present within it, always hiddenly, always leaving you room to recognize him or not recognize him.”

Frederick Buechner from Listening to Your Life

I stood at the edge, toes curled under, digging in, peering into the wilderness. A place of frightening unknowns with uncultivated terrain. Life derailed by chronic illness, one malady heaped upon the other, I found myself, not only led, but stranded in the wilderness. Stranded without a cure.

A long journey lay ahead, one, I didn’t ask for. Isn’t that often the way, when we are called, possibly pulled kicking and screaming into the wilderness? Given a choice, would I go? Given the choice would you?

Dear Reader, I’m wondering if you feel stranded as well, wondering how in this unholy hard can, if, we might find our way through.

Yesterday was one of debilitating pain, a fight to not give in or give up. Have you felt this way? If so, I pray these words will encourage you today.

I slung (it’s a southern thang-smile) a temper tantrum before the Lord, said all the words a good girl, a tough, good girl, doesn’t say. Hurled questions at a brilliant blue sky, once again holding my tears within.

Spent, empty, I pulled a blanket across my lap, sitting in the quiet. The spending of myself makes space for listening. Contemplating things greater than I.

I opened my new Bible, the one I can lift without pain, turning through pages I’ve just begun to mark.

So God led them in a round-about way through the wilderness toward the Red Sea. Thus the Israelites left Egypt Like an army ready for battle. Exodus 13:18 (NLT)

Familiar words, a familiar story, one I often seek when comfort is needed. One, that feels similar to my own “Wilderness Detour.”  When I embrace my wilderness as the detour it is I am able to put one front in front of the other. Able to do the next ordinary thing. Able to live in the unholy hard.

“There is no event so commonplace but that God is present within it” Frederick Buechner

Why did God lead the Israelites through the wilderness? Take them the long way around?

When Pharaoh finally let the people go, God did not lead them along the main road that runs through Philistine territory, even though that was the shortest route to the Promised Land. God said, “If the people are faced with a battle, they might change their minds and return to Egypt.” Exodus 13:17 (NLT)

Taking the shortest route often detours us away from God, leading back to the very thing we need to escape. The things that take us away from Him.

I would have missed Him. Missed the manna, missed the provision, missed the parting of my own Red Sea. It’s in the wilderness where I, where you, where we, experience God in extraordinary ways.

Jennie Allen author of Nothing to Prove said this, “He doesn’t take us anywhere He can’t save us from.”

“Where He leads us to go there’s a Red Sea road” Ellie Holcomb from Red Sea Road

This is hard. I want even pretend it’s not. Here’s the thing, though we are led through the wilderness, through the unholy hard, we are not alone.

We are not stranded.

PS: I’m blessed to serve you in this place, to share with you the Gifts of Grace as I journey through the wilderness. I picture you across the table, hands wrapped tightly around your cup, sharing life, and laughter, and tears. As I share with you my own daily struggles, I long to hear what yours may be. Sharing the realness of life. You can do that by commenting below or reaching out to me here.

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PSS: In case you missed it:

“What Makes Me Cry: Living With Chronic Illness” 

This FaceBook Live

Annie F. Downs Podcast with guest Steven Curtis Chapman

Gifts of Grace