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Lessons From The Wilderness

In the still and quiet, I find myself searching in quiet desperation for the next step on my journey with the Lord through unemployment. I am sharing some of my reflections of walking with Christ through this wilderness and the lessons I am slowly learning!

Lessons in the Wilderness
Smiling Through It All (well, mostly…)

Lesson 1) Being A Writer

I was encouraged today by a blog post written by Alyssa Joy Bethke about writing and her struggle of not putting pen to paper. She wrote: “Maybe the Lord had to really show things to me in the wilderness.” That resonates with me right now. Maybe the Lord is trying to really show me things in the wilderness – and currently, my wilderness is unemployment.

Perhaps I have a renewed opportunity to focus on what I have always felt led to do – write. Alyssa talks about how she wrote down a list of her fears, and one of them was writing.

“My fear has stopped me from doing the very thing that God has called me to do.”

I think my fear is often what others think of me not having work – do they think I am useless or unambitious seeking part-time work whilst writing and volunteering, rather than pursuing something greater with my degree qualifications? Another fear is not earning enough money through the words that I write. However, being a writer was never about me making money. It was a response and desire to praise God through words, and share His goodness with all people. I never want to lose that focus as I grow as a writer. If I am able to see the fruits of my labour through cash or cheque, that is a blessing. However, my desire is to share the gospel in the everyday things of life first!

Alyssa explains what writing is to her, and it is so true for me as well that I must share it with you all:

“I feel completely at home with my fingers tap-tapping on the keyboard, or my fingers wrapped around my pen, creating phrases and sentences with a pen in my worn-out journal. It’s here that I process, that I pour my heart out on paper. God speaks to me here. I can be totally real and completely me. No filter. I can make mistakes and it can be messy, but that’s all a part of the process. And the most amazing thing is that I’ve seen God use my words to draw people closer to Himself. To show more of who He is, to bring glory to His awesome name. My passion and His praise meet.” 

In summary, through this season of unemployment I am able to concentrate on the gift God has provided me with which is writing. I am understanding that my fears could keep me from realising this amazing opportunity to continue writing in new ways for Him. I need to be courageous and bold despite my fears!

Lesson 2) Patience, Trust and Unwanted Pride 

Until I had the experience of applying for countless jobs, attending several interviews and being greeted with the familiar silence of rejection from this, I never realised how impatient I was! I pray for the Lord to give me direction and clarity on big decisions, especially when it comes to work. Through this time, I have learnt that I am to continuously trust God, even when my patience thins. Moreover, He is leading me on a journey through the wilderness so that I may develop patience and a renewed trust in Him, rather than in my own ability.

Education has often given me a structured safety net so I would know where I was headed more or less, and I would have that guarantee term after term. Now, formal education has finished and what is left is an impatient graduate placing trust in her own abilities thanks to a string of good grades. I think it’s fair to say I have needed a firm grounding back to reality and God is really dealing with my prideful heart. Although I am thankful for my degree and education, it is not what defines me and it should not puff me up so much that my head cannot get through the door. God is calling me back to Him and wanting me to place my trust in Him, grow in patience and discard this prideful heart.

Patience in the Wilderness
Patience in the Wilderness

Lesson 3) Steadfastness

This is probably one of the most valuable lessons I have learned so far. I never really understood what steadfast meant, even though I would read about it. I decided to check it out in the dictionary and it is defined as ‘firm, fixed, settled or established’; ‘not changing, fickle or wavering’ and ‘fixed in direction, steadily directed, a steadfast gaze’.

Reading what steadfast meant made me realise that being unemployed enabled me to have a renewed sense of what it means to be steadfast in the Lord. To be ‘firm’ in the faith, ‘fixed’ in the truth of God’s Word and promises, ‘settled’ as a believer in Jesus, ‘established’ as a Christian in my day to day life. I love the idea of having a ‘steadfast gaze’ upon the Lord; that my ways may honour and glorify Him as I remain ‘steadily directed’ by Him and keep a ‘fixed direction’ on Jesus all the days of my life.

Sometimes, in the busyness of life it is easy to feel that faith may waver as we encounter different directions, opportunities and disasters which make us unsteady and unsure. Even when days seem empty or incomplete, we may not feel that there is a fixed direction of what we should do, where we should go, how we should approach something, when we should do something etc. There are a myriad of different choices on offer.

However, when we have a steadfast gaze on God, we are not fickle or wavering, but secure and hopeful. This lesson has taught me the importance of being steadfast, and not focusing on the choices and directions for my life, but instead having a steadfast gaze upon the One who directs our steps:

“The mind of man plans his way, But the LORD directs his steps.” (Proverbs 16:9)

This is not a definitive list of lessons learnt through my experience of unemployment. Nonetheless, I hope it is an encouragement of what can be known and understood through the difficult trials of life when we place our hope in Jesus. His love never fails, even if we fail – which we do, daily! But rather than burden ourselves with guilt and shame, let us have a steadfast gaze on the Lord!

“You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you.” (Isaiah 26:3)

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