Two years ago I had an amazing encounter with God (described here) then proceeded to act like an idiot: I quit my job with no backup plan and in a manner designed to make my previous boss look bad.
I entered a ‘wilderness period’ in my life: Unemployed, looking for work, failing to make mortgage payments. In this ‘wilderness’ God revealed Himself to me, not through a burning bush, but through a Masters in Ministry program at Northwest University. As my Masters program finished God provided me with the job I have now, but the ‘wilderness period’ wasn’t over: My new boss was fired within weeks of my hiring, and the first six months of my tenure were memorable only for the frustration I endured.
Here’s a picture I took of myself two weeks ago on an amazing hike in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness. My hair was long enough to be in a pony-tail and I’ve got a decent beard going. My dad begged me to cut my hair for months, but I was never quite ready.
It’s funny how much can change in two weeks.
Here’s a picture a coworker took of me yesterday. The hair is short and the beard is gone. Literally every person at my office who saw me had one of two reactions: They either audibly reacted to seeing me (quite loudly in some cases) or they walked right past me without recognizing me. One woman told me she didn’t know how to talk to me because I looked so different. Other people said I looked 10 years younger. It was the best day I’ve ever had at work, and because my boss and a number of other people took Friday off I’ll get to do it again on Monday.
But the most interesting part of the day happened before I got back to work. I can’t tell you where it came from but as I stepped out from the salon onto the sidewalk I thought to myself: “My wilderness time is over.” And it occurred to me that God has been working on me ever so patiently over the last two years, despite my best efforts to frustrate Him. God has prepared me and something about that shave and haircut signalled I was ready to emerge from the wilderness. I felt like I could conquer the world; I felt invincible. How much of my time in the ‘wilderness’ was self-imposed…Did some part of me need time to heal and grow under all that hair, like a disguise to keep the ‘real me’ safe underneath?
Then I began to wonder: If my ‘wilderness time’ was self-imposed, how many of my readers are going through the same thing? How many of them are wearing a disguise to hide changes taking place inside? How many of them will get stuck in the ‘wilderness’ and wander for the rest of their lives, and how many of them will eventually find their way out?
Are you in the wilderness?