Friday, February 13, 2015

7 Years {The Wilderness}

{We've been missing Kiley for seven long years.  But, we are also seven years closer to seeing her again.  The below is a brief excursion into my wilderness experience after losing her.
 God is enough.  He was on February 13, 2008 and he is on February 13, 2015.}

The cold February afternoon turned sharply bitter. In one single phone call, my entire world imploded as all my preconceived notions of life, God, and prayer fell outside onto the brittle grass only to be carried away by the howling wind.

My beautiful, Jesus loving, smart, and vivacious sister, Kiley, had died.

And it was all her choice.

The long drive to my parents’ house was pure torture. As my husband, Eric, and I watched the sun go down over the horizon, I wondered if it would ever come back up. I kept willing it to stay where it was as I silently uttered elementary Christian truths over and over like some mantra. God is light. God is good. God is sovereign. God is light. God is good. God is sovereign.

The sun went down anyway.

I didn’t know it then, but that was the day God was calling me out into the wilderness.


In the sacred Word, the book we tenderly cradle as God’s words, we find the story of Joseph. It is with his story that we see the first mention of the word wilderness in the Bible. Joseph’s older brothers seethed with jealousy after their father, Jacob, robed him in that infamous and colorful handmade coat. Green was the only color they saw after Joseph later told them that they would all bow down to him. Joseph was young and inexperienced in handling grand visions, but he didn’t deserve what was coming.

Being obedient to his father, Joseph sets out to find his shepherding brothers and bring back a report of their wellbeing. They saw him from afar and conspired to kill him. Reuben alone intervened. “And Reuben said to them, Shed no blood; throw him into this pit here in the wilderness, but do not lay a hand on him”—that he might rescue him out of their hand to restore him to his father.” Genesis 37:22

When Reuben returns to the pit, he finds it empty. His brothers have sold him. They took the coat of many colors, now bleeding red with the blood of a goat and placed it in their father’s presence. Jacob could only assume the worst. For many anguishing years, he believed his beloved son had been devoured by a fierce animal.

Don’t miss it. Joseph was thrown into a pit in the wilderness.

The wilderness is where God calls us out and separates us from everything comfortable. It is a barren and dry land that has never been cultivated. It is an uninhabited land where God alone becomes our guide. In the wilderness, God starts to strip away all of our futile and false notions of who He is. It is in the wilderness that He begins to court our souls, eventually enticing us to crave Him more than anything else.


The next several months after Kiley died produced more tears than the previous 30 years combined.  Every commercial, song, bible verse, food choice, and photograph became a trigger, spiraling me into depression and darkness.  I was doing the Texas two-step with the Master Choreographer.  Two steps forward in faith and one giant step back in doubt. 

God could have easily prevented Kiley from such a destructive act.  I would beat my hands against his divine chest in raw anger as I questioned what he had allowed that day.  It wasn’t his power that I doubted but his goodness.  What was this so-called merciful God up to now that we were waist deep in rubble?

I would try to sleep at night but get so hysterical that I couldn’t breathe.  Eric would get a hold of me and settle me back down.  I was a wave, tossed by the cruel half lies that the enemy shouted into my weary frame. To say that I was disappointed with God would have been an understatement.

The Lord of the Universe had stripped me bare.  God didn’t want my proud and lofty understanding of His Word or my spiritual gifts and service.  He wanted my heart and He would patiently stay by my side until I learned to rest against his steady heartbeat. He needed my trust.

It was during this rock bottom time that God started to reveal Himself in fresh and beautiful ways.

The Father had brought me out into the wilderness so he could speak comfortably to my heart.   We were in a barren land free from all the distractions of the world.  I was in a place where I could care less about anything but what He might whisper into the recesses of my shattered heart.  I needed to hear from him, even if he would never give me the reason behind allowing my sister to go through with that fateful and devastating choice.

Through the anguishing months and years, as the tears fell, God gracefully collected each one and placed them in a special bottle.

 “You have kept count of my tossings; put my tears in your bottle.  Are they not in your book?  Then my enemies will turn back in the day when I call.  This I know, that God is for me.”
 Psalm 56:8-9 ESV

Here was a God who had mysteriously let one daughter follow through on an unwise choice while storing the precious tears of another daughter in His bottle.  He wasn’t aloof.  He wasn’t cruel.  Somehow, he was merciful to Kiley that day in allowing her to go home.  He was also merciful to those left behind, revealing His tender heart that cared about each excruciating ache.


Joseph wasn't left in the pit for long, but his wilderness experience continued.  His brothers sold him to Ishmaelite slave traders for mere shekels.  The favorite son was now the slave.  Joseph was sold again to Potiphar, in Egypt.  While here, he was falsely accused of rape, imprisoned, and forgotten.  If my math is right, his wilderness experience is 13 years.  During each hard period of time, the Word tells us that the Lord was with Joseph and showed him steadfast love.  The wilderness experience provided a time for Joseph to know his God and trust, despite the cruel circumstances.

Joseph's wilderness experience was not wasted.  Instead, it was God's pathway to saving the family that would eventually usher forth the Messiah. In a sense, this man's wilderness experience paved the way for you and I to be set free from sin.


I was in the wilderness for three whole years.  Over the course of those long days, I slowly and gradually learned more about the Father's affection towards not just me, but Kiley.  Who is this King of Glory that creates countless universes yet builds his Temple inside my mere human form? Who is this Holy Father that not only forgives the unthinkable but runs to embrace and welcome home?  I can't grasp the depth of such a Being and yet He is pleased with my simple worship.  I feel like I am my two year old babbling my own beginnings of a language that He is the master of. He urges me on, His vocabulary always pointing to words like grace and love. Chesed and Ahava.

My fear in writing about my beloved Savior is that I won't get Him right.  He means so much in the recesses of my heart but I can't always express him adequately on paper.  He is so much more than the written word.  He is breath after the storm has sucked out all the bone marrow.  He is nourishment when the food just won't go down.  He is energy coursing through weary legs, allowing one foot to be placed in front of the other.

I don't know what kind of pit you have been thrown into.   Allow this enticing God to take your hand and gently lead you into the wilderness where he will woo you away from cheap imitations of love that will never satisfy.

God will go to beautiful and extravagant lengths so that you will behold him as Husband and not just Lord. See the wilderness as mercy and a chance to see Him fresh. It is in the wilderness where you will learn to hear and trust His voice even when nothing else makes sense.  Your wilderness will not be wasted.  I promise one thing:  HE is worth it.

"Therefore, behold,
I will allure her,
 and bring her into the wilderness,
 and speak tenderly to her."
Hosea 2:14

1 comment:

Bev said...

Beautiful and well said!