My prairie heart embraces open expanses, wild flowers and grasses waving rib-high, creek melodies beneath the green canopy of summer wood. This tall grass wandering… it’s what I know. It is where heart lyrics give rise. It feeds the soul as I tune to God’s whisper on the breeze. The cares of the world sweep freely to horizon blue. The monarch dances before me, and I smile full.
Of desert wilderness I have known nothing… except perhaps that wilderness of the heart when life has pierced our tender enclaves.
Now I leave a bit of heart in the desert wilderness… where God unveiled before me majesty, beauty and power I’d not imagined.
First glimpses evoked awe. My boys and I had promised our family this was the year for us to discover the desert, western mountains, the Grand Canyon. In the busyness that is life, our plans changed... schedules had to shift… dreams stayed ahead of us unopened.
And the message buzzed my phone. “He’s gone.” The future became the unrealized past without ever pausing to be the present.
As I tapped out the words of a life’s memorial, I struggled to grasp letters and sentences to capture the essence of one who lived boldly. I understood with greater enormity that life’s moments are gifts we offer, we open, or we lose.
In some small way, seizing this moment… this time… was a gift of honor I could offer. It was a lesson I could live out for my own sons. And so our eyes fell upon mountain ranges, and these boots stepped out upon desert sand. Awe became our lens.
For a little boy, even water plenty was not enough to entirely quench the thirst of the desert. Poured passed tender lips, trickled down rosy skin... still, there was an intensity about this wilderness climb that bore down. Yet the dry breeze was cool refreshment. Breathtaking vistas removed all thought of rigor.
As we journeyed, we were reminded of Moses and his people in the desert wandering… not for hours or days, but decades. Not with water bottles and packaged snacks but wholly the provision of God. And we had a path. We wouldn’t be lost. Until we were. And in a place of such extremes our own known ways were no longer sufficient.
I am glad that along the way we paused to soak in this desert place and all we were learning together. We spoke again of Moses… about persevering… about being open to something new no matter how great the challenge… about God’s provision and direction. Living boldly.
The next day we said goodbye as a family to a man who sought to live life fully. And when the morning came again we gathered to worship. And the sermon? Moses and his people in the wilderness. God knows my own willfulness, and so He is patient to speak lessons until I hear.
“Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go.” Joshua 1: 7 (NIV).
“The Lord said to Joshua, 'Do not be afraid of them; I have given them into your hand. Not one of them will be able to withstand you.” Joshua 10:8 (NIV).
Joshua believed in God’s providence so boldly and fearlessly while wandering the desert that he asked God to stop the sun. And He did. He stopped the sun that through Joshua’s victory His power and provision would be known. He stopped the sun because Joshua was bold and confident in his prayer.
So I’ve tasted of the desert wilderness… and majesty. And this cloud of beloved witnesses that has gone before me showers a heritage of bold faith. What place have I for timidity? What place have you as opportunities come and go? Are you opening His gifts in the wilderness?