This past summer, my family and I took a trip to north Wales. It was possibly the wettest holiday I have ever been on! Over the seven days that we were there, we were stuck inside for two entire days and spent a lot of other time inside because we couldn’t brave the wind and the rain.
One thing we did do a lot of on that holiday was walking- armed with wellies and waterproofs we traipsed up and down hills, through forests, alongside rivers and waterfalls and along paths in an old slate quarry.
One morning, my dad, my sister and I took a walk to this old slate quarry. It was windy and raining on and off, and we were all a bit cold. We walked up this path that twisted and turned between different bits of the quarry and led us past old mining buildings. About halfway up the path was this ledge, and from standing on it, you could just see this magnificent waterfall tumbling down the hillside past the quarry.
The waterfall was just… incredible, and as we stood atop that ledge, exposed to the wind and rain, and with nothing to protect us, I was overcome with a sense of the presence of God. Deep in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by fields and sheep and waterfalls and rolling hills and dense forests, I was shocked by how close God felt. His spirit was in that place.
And I don’t know why, but this kind of surprised me. It was like I hadn’t expected to feel God’s spirit so close to me in the absolute middle of nowhere in northern Wales. I was used to experiencing God at church… or Christian events with a big band and lots of people… or at youth group. The more I thought about it, the more this experience resonated with me and a particular season of life. I don’t know if you can relate, but I sometimes go through seasons in my life where I struggle to feel close to God. I struggle to read my bible and to pray, and it really feels like I’m in ‘wilderness’.
A season of wilderness in your relationship with God might look different for you than it does for me. It might look like doubting your faith- or denying it. You might get into a cycle of sin which you just can’t break. You might not feel comforted by God’s presence. But whatever wilderness in your faith looks like for you, God has not forsaken you during it. That is what this encounter taught me- even in the wilderness and the tough seasons of life, and even when it feels like God isn’t there, He actually is. All you need to do is run back to God. Our Heavenly Father welcomes us with open arms when we repent our sins and turn back to him. But what does this look like?
Well, what I have learnt from seasons of wilderness in my faith is that life is infinity times tougher without God. Each time I relearn this, all I have to do is turn back to God and have that conversation with him. The awesome thing is, although I am not worthy (never have been, never will be) God loves me so much more than I could know.
The other thing which is essential for my relationship with Christ- other than conversation with him- is getting into His word.
‘For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.’ Hebrews 4:12
Friends, the bible is so powerful- it is the literal word of God! And so, there is no better way to get to know our God and to build our relationships with him than diving headfirst into His word!
I pray that as you read this, you would be reminded of God’s immense and powerful love for you- yes, YOU!- and that you would feel encouraged by the knowledge that even in the wilderness and in those tough seasons of life when you feel so alone, God is with you.