“One of the reasons we experience anxiety is that God is persistently trying to move us through the wilderness, because it is in the wilderness that we are most dependent up on Him.”
(The Anxious Christian, pp. 45).
About 15 years while I was reading through the book of Exodus I came across a passage that literally jumped off the page at me. I had read the passage before, but this time it resonated in a way that it had never before. And it has been speaking deeply to me ever since that encounter. In Exodus 17:1 we read:
“From the wilderness of Sin the whole congregation of the Israelites journeyed by stages, as the LORD commanded.” (NRSV, bold added)
This passage continually reminds me that we find ourselves in this wilderness journey called life. And though we would like to move from Point A to Point B in one fell swoop, life does not work that way…most of the time. Instead, we find ourselves moving from one place to the next. Step by step, from one stage of the journey to the next stage. Sometimes we are in a particular stage for days, weeks, months…even years at a time. And then we might move onto the next. Talk about anxiety causing. Just the uncertainty of the journey in the in-between spaces should cause even the most seasoned traveler to feel uncomfortable in the oft ambiguity of it all.
I don’t know why God has you at this particular stage in your journey, but there is a reason.
Maybe you are this stage in your journey because God wants you to learn something about yourself. Maybe he wants you to work on your marriage. Maybe he wants you to mature in your faith. Maybe their is a skill he wants you to require at this stage. Maybe he wants you to ask for forgiveness.
Whatever the reason, you are at this stage for a purpose, and in each stage of our journey there is something we can grow from. So though you find yourself anxious, wanting to just get on with life, perhaps it is time to embrace your anxiety and welcome the uncertainty that life, and the journey of faith often brings with it.
So your challenge for the week is to welcome uncertainty in your life…befriend ambiguity as Kelly Wilson and Troy Defrene suggest below:
“Most of the things in life you truly care about are likely to be very ambiguous, and if you can’t foster some ability to make a place for ambiguity, you’re likely to be doomed to an act in the service of its elimination–which is really a fancy and roundabout way of saying that you’ll feel and suffer from anxiety much of the time.
Learning to love ambiguity can be a very powerful, if rather counterintuitive, act. By love here, we’re not talking about falling in love or being in love. We mean love as an act. You can learn to care for and cherish ambiguity. you can invite it into your house for a while, give it a glass of lemonade, talk with it, and listen to what it has to say to you. You’ll often find things in the midst of ambiguity that you can’t see of experience anywhere else. (things might go terribly, horribly wrong by Kelly G. Wilson & Troy Defrene, pp. 33).
What is an area of your life that is causing anxiety because of its uncertainty?
What would you need to do in order to befriend that uncertainty/ambiguity?
What would that practically look like?
This post is the third in a continuing series on the topic of transforming your anxiety. If you would like more help in learning to use your anxiety for good, check out my book The Anxious Christian, and work through the questions, exercises and prayer located at the end of each chapter. This can be a powerful experience alone, or in a small group.