“Not all who wander are lost.”~ J.R.R. Tolkien
Before I classify myself as a wanderer I must clarify what I mean exactly for the word “wanderer” tends to carry a negative nuance. It might be paired with an adjective like “aimless” and pictures of the double minded man from the opening chapter of James epistle might come to mind. Joyce Meyers, in her book Battlefield of the Mind, describes the “wandering, wondering mind” that focuses not and accomplishes little. It is described as a restless condition of the mind that is not at rest, at peace and not conducive to receiving revelation from the Lord. In short, it is not the “mind of Christ.” which we have received as gift and promise in the Holy Spirit of God.
I would be dishonest if I did not admit that at some place and level these types of “wandering” have characterized my life. I have ADD and struggle with focus. I have tried to grab hold of God yet have not let go of this world, my desires for it or of certain besetting sins that have kept me entangled. Often in my inner being I refuse or find it very difficult to put my trust in God and rest in that confidence. This is largely the condition in which my “awakening” arose. My double-mindedness had kept me marching around the same mountain, paralyzed by unbelief and consequently inaction. It is from the call “You have dwelt long enough on this mount, go take your journey” that I take up a new identity as a wanderer. I also must be careful not to think I will no longer deal or struggle with the same things; but, with this new awakening I have a different operating principle in my life. Faith and trust in God’s Word and call instead of in my own thoughts. This is why I seek in the desert the glory of the crucified one; I seek the Word in flesh for my deliverance and victory.
In this new way of wandering I am wending my way to align with his way. This is the New Testament understanding of faith, πιστις; i.e. to align oneself with. I’m starting to pick up the pieces of a prayer I prayed a bit short of two years ago: I want to live a cruciform life. A cruciform life is a life in the form of the cross, the real desire is to live in the way of Jesus, in the pattern of his life which has been so defined by the means of his temporary death. I will stay in the desert as long as God wants me until I get and actualize the reality that I am his. Perhaps while I’m here I’ll find my heart and reconnect to it as I continue mend my way to the heart of God and be mended in his heart.
For the love of him,
The Lord spoke to Moses in the Desert of Sinai in the first month of the second year after they came out of Egypt. He said, “Have the Israelites celebrate the Passover at the appointed time.”~ Numbers 9:1, 2 NIV
“Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies.” ~ Psalm 23:5a, KJV
” And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.”~ Luke 22:19
The desert is a place of spiritual battle. It is place where one withdraws from the world to confront the enemies of self, the devil and his demons. At this place, our enemies have less advantage for their ally in the world has diminished. Yet at the same time they’re presence and one’s awareness of them seems to increase. They no longer hide among the shifting shadows of the world but come out in all of their ugly colors and shapes. Here at this place, the Lord, our Good Shepherd, prepares a table before us. I’ve often seen this as a reference to the Table of the Lord. It suggests the provision of manna in the desert and the new bread from heaven, the body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ. Because this sacrifice is our deliverance the proper context of enjoining in this table is that of eucharista or thanksgiving.
We must let each reminder of life, which is always a miracle in the desert, be a place to turn our eyes in thankfulness to our heavenly Father. We find then the tapestry of our life embedded with treasures and blessings from God the deepest being his very presence that is with us. Christ in the desert with us, Christ, Immanuel. A Brother from the Benedictine Abbey of Christ in the desert wrote: “It [the desert] is both a place of testing and a place of supplication; a crucible and a ciborium.” The Israelites celebrated passover for the first time when they were fleeing the Egyptians bent on destroying them. Judas sat at Jesus’ table and Jesus was about to begin his passion when he celebrated passover and gave thanks. In the presence of our enemies we must face the glory of the crucified one who comes present to us in bread and wine. Whether we literally partake of the Sacrament of the Altar or we contemplate it spiritually we must be in touch with Christ the source of life. It is his passion and bitter suffering that is our victory over the forces of darkness within and without us. In the midst of spiritual battle we must look to him and give thanks.
This past May I was a number of seven who set out from Minneapolis to explore China. There was another number from California who joined our company once there. We became sojourners. At once removed from the routines and day to day of my normal, student life I was brought to a place where I could see more clearly who I was and where I was. There in Middle Kingdom the Lord God Almighty exposed where I was and what I was doing. I was a desert wanderer. More or less, I had wandered into the desert seeking mirages because I could not find it in me to trust relentlessly on the Lord. The Book of Numbers and “The Wilderness Mentalities” section of Joyce Meyer’s Battlefield of the Mind, became the topography of my spiritual navigation out of cluelessness and into awakening. There as a desert wanderer God called me to metanoia.
“The LORD our God said to us in Horeb, ‘You have stayed long enough at this mountain. Turn and take your journey.” (Deuteronomy 1:6. 7a, ESV).
I’ve been on this journey for some time now and aware of it at least since then. As it is necessary I will take to writing insights and reflections on this journey. This will offer both a medium helpful to process and move through this desert time as well as a means to share what may be helpful to others.