By Invitation Only
As Shane, Oliver and Papa O'Toole learned, God won't interfere with your free will. It wasn't until they collectively participated in a bet, inviting God to show Himself in the process, that He became involved. Rest assured, God always wants to move in our lives, but He wants our permission to do so. Matthew 7:7-8 reminds us, "Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened."---it's up to you to make the first move. Remember this: No one who went up to the mountain in Lost Without You came back without finding what they were looking for, or eventually having it revealed to them if they chose to "trust the timing."
God used Joe's injury as an opportunity to confront Joe with "what was in [his] heart," the puncture wound a physical manifestation of his spiritual ailment. "Laid low by a scratch"---physically prevented from running away---the source of Joe's pain was finally revealed to him. His relationship with Oliver, and even his faith, was restored in the process.
For Oliver, going "back to the forest" led Oliver exactly where he was trying to get the whole time, but was unable to go because of "what was in [his] heart." Oliver had to be reminded of---and confronted with---that first trip to El Dorado Canyon and the pain he endured there in order to finally come to terms with it's lingering impact on so many areas of his life and relationships as an adult. When Oliver confronted "what was in [his] heart,"---the decades of risk-aversion developed in response to a broken heart---and committed it to God, he allowed God to move miraculously and in a short amount of time. Working on his behalf, God not only restored his broken relationships, but paved the way for new, significant ones, to be firmly established.
Even in times of great pain, turmoil and questioning this holds true. In the midst of her intense introspection, being "open" to "the abilit[ies] of the Almighty" was just enough room for God to not only use Shgne in the process of carrying out His Will, but also reach Shane's heart in ways that increased her awareness---and even dependence---on Him. Similarly, even as Norman was directly confronted with instances of temptation, he chose to humble himself and serve others as Jesus would have done. You are never as far from Him as you think.
The "Devil comes to seek, kill and destroy." (John 10:10) To avoid him requires constant awareness, and to combat him requires Truth. Sometimes "what [is] in [our] heart[s]" are the lies the enemy has fed us, which, in our time of weakness or our hesitance to reach out to God have been allowed to take root and dictate how we live our lives. Commit to some serious introspection, call out the lies you find, and ask God to replace them with His Truth.
- God, in His Sovereignty, can drop you into a wilderness at any time, whether sudden, repeated confrontations with temptation, or going around in circles hiking, God could be trying to get your attention. Don't be afraid to acknowledge Him.
- The Wilderness isn't a punishment, it's an opportunity to move you forward and towards your destiny.
- In a place that would naturally seem to signal the absence of God, the Wilderness is, in fact, where He is most within your grasp. Reach out to Him.
- When you consent to God, you consent to trusting His timing---whatever that means and however long that takes. Trust Him and commit to that journey.
- At it's core the Wilderness was about increasing awareness of God. When you "assume nothing," everything has the potential to be connected. Imagine the connections you could make even right this second if you were seeking God in each moment?
What lessons did you take from the Wilderness series? I'd love to hear your takeaways in the comments!
Wilderness Series: Introduction | Joe | Oliver | Shane | Norman | Prologue