When I was 20 years old I married my high school sweet heart. Ten years later I found myself alone, raising four kids, and completely heart broken. After five years of marriage my husband had enlisted into the Army Reserves and he left our marriage both physically and emotionally. The desire to be single, to be free, to live without responsibilities out-weighed the desire to have a family and so he followed after the desires of his flesh. I struggled for five years to hold it together. I dealt with his infidelity, his abandonment, his lack of financial support, his lack of emotional support, and his addiction to prescription pain medications. We went back and forth from “we’re going to make it” to “I want out”. He didn’t have the courage to end the marriage and so he strung me along for five years until he finally couldn’t take it anymore. I clung to God, I told Him I would be patient. I waited and I waited for God to return my husband to me and my children. I prayed like I never prayed before. My relationship with God grew by leaps and bounds. He sustained me. He provided for me in supernatural ways. He became my Husband and He cared for me every step of the way. And when my husband and I divorced, God whispered in my ear “I heard your prayers and I will answer them. Not in the way that you’ve asked, for My ways are higher. But I will give you the desire of your heart. I will give you love and security. I will.”
God led me through that season of wilderness, and as He so often does, He led me to the brink of a canyon. On the other side stood my Promised Land, a land of love and provision, security and peace. I cried out to God over and over to please lift me up and set me down in the Promised Land. Had I not endured enough? Had I not survived the Wilderness? Why oh why would He set me down on the edge of a canyon?? What was I supposed to do here? Sit and wait?? After all the waiting and wandering in the Wilderness, surely God couldn’t expect me to sit and wait at the edge of the Canyon.
Well, in hindsight, that is precisely what God wanted me to do. And that is exactly what I did NOT do. I got to the edge of that canyon (or a season of waiting patiently for God to give me direction) and I began devising my own plans of how to get across it. I was ready to be loved and provided for. I was ready to feel secure and not completely without control as I had felt for so long. So I looked around, and decided to try jumping across that canyon myself. I took a running leap and landed on a boulder jetting out from the wall of the canyon, 10 ft below where I started. Now, a sensible person would see that this was a foolish idea and would either try climbing back up to the edge of the canyon, or would sit there and wait for God to rescue them. But I was neither sensible nor patient at that period of my life and so I jumped again, this time landing on a rock 20 ft below the last one. My jumping continued until I found myself pacing the bottom of the canyon, wondering what went wrong. I’m very fortunate that God allowed me to land on boulder after boulder as I plunged myself deeper into the canyon. He could have easily allowed me to splatter myself against the jagged rocks that I so recklessly leaped from. But He didn’t. My loving Father shook His head and protected me from myself. However, He let me continue to lead my own life, deeper and deeper into the canyon.
Don’t get me wrong. The entire time I jumped deeper into the canyon, I was calling out to Him. I was praying. I was reading my Bible. I just wasn’t waiting. The anxiety that was inside of me was bigger than the canyon itself. I was seeking after God. I wanted nothing more than to fellowship with Him in the Promised Land. And I wanted it now. With each jump I took, with every boulder I landed on, I destroyed things in my life. I didn’t realize at the time that my desire to be in control was hurting many of my relationships, my career and of course, it was keeping me out of the Promised Land.
Finally, after almost an entire year of boulder jumping, I had no boulders left to jump from and I stopped pacing the base of the canyon and just sat down. I read the story of Esther and thought about the beauty treatments that she participated in for a year before being brought before the king. So I asked God, “Will you prepare my heart for the Promised Land? I’m not ready for it.” I fully expected to sit at the bottom of that canyon for a year, but my God is a merciful God. It wasn’t that God wanted to withhold the Promised Land from me any longer… it was just that He needed me to be willing to wait on Him. I finally sat still down there in my own canyon of loneliness and God dropped down a ladder.
I fully expected it to be a ladder of steel, but was amazed instead that He lowered a rickety wooden ladder. You see, He needed me to trust Him with every step. I took that first step, then a second, and gasped as the first rung broke in two just after I removed my foot. I kept my eyes glued on God, not the Promised Land, and after trusting Him for just a few more steps, I held on as God raised that ladder out of the canyon Himself. No more climbing was needed. All I had to do was show Him that I trusted Him and He lifted me out of my pit.
The ride out of the canyon was fast and exciting. Just imagine holding onto a ladder as it’s lifted hundreds of feet up over the jagged rocks to the safety of the land. Somewhere along the ride up, I felt another hand holding onto mine, strengthening my grip on the ladder. It was the hand of someone I recognized- an amazing man, a soldier, a single father… a man who is now my best friend, my protector, my hero and my husband.
Bob, too, had been waiting patiently on the side of a boulder to be pulled from his own canyon of loneliness. Bob had been up and down the walls of the canyon and had learned what I learned about waiting for God’s outstretched hand. In fact, I had previously met Bob in the canyon as I was jumping off boulders. I had tried to land on the boulder that he was standing on months before, but he wasn’t in a place where he could share his boulder at that time in his life and so I had fallen even further onto another boulder. Now together, with his hand gripped around mine, we were being raised out of our canyon and set on solid ground. We entered the Promised Land together.
We have shared with each other our individual wilderness experiences. We know about the boulders we’ve landed on in the canyon. We’ve tended to each other’s scrapes and bruises and dusted each other off. This adventure in the Promised Land has only just begun for us. What God has in store, we do not know. But we are no longer wandering alone. God is our Guide. He is with us as we discover each twist and turn that life brings us.
I want to welcome you to the Wives of WAR blog. We are not only wives familiar with the "war" our husbands are fighting, but we are women embracing the acronymn of WAR- Women At Rest. We are military wives learning to trust God in the midst of our circumstances. That's what it's all about!