“Some wandered in desert wastelands, finding no way to a city where they could settle.
They were hungry and thirsty and their lives ebbed away.
Then, they cried out to The Lord in their trouble and he delivered them from their distress.
He led them by a straight way to a city where they could settle.
Let them give thanks to The Lord for his unfailing love and his wonderful deeds for mankind, for he satisfies the thirsty and fills the hungry with good things.”
I have rediscovered something about myself recently: I do not transition well! This has been exemplified lately by my switch from full time work (and everything else we’ve got going on in church, family and all the rest) to maternity leave. Essentially, I’m at home hanging with a two-year old and awaiting the arrival of a new baby, on a full time basis. I have more time than I know what to do with, literally!
Now, the normal response to such a change of pace one would think, would be an overwhelming sense of peace and relaxation. Apparently, I am not normal! Instead of entering into some sort state of domestic bliss, I have experienced a shock wave of the anxiety that comes and goes in my life from time to time. Perhaps I don’t know myself when I have room to move, who knows, anyway, it hasn’t been very calm or serene around here recently.
Perhaps this is why I identified with the Israelites as they are documented in the above Psalm snippet; I’ve landed myself in my own private desert wasteland. A desert implies a sense of lifelessness and a wasteland denotes pointlessness, of lack of purpose. It’s amazing how the psalmist has perfectly captured in one simple phrase, written so long ago, how many people experience mental illness in our contemporary society.
It’s been awhile since I’ve had the time and space to be still; life has been ridiculously busy, probably unhealthily so, if I’m honest, so I empathise with the Israelites in this psalm, as they struggle with being unable to find a place to settle. Again, the psalmist captures the feeling perfectly: “They were hungry and thirsty and their lives ebbed away.” My sudden change from a packed schedule to a relative lack of structure gave me a sense that nothing meaningful was being achieved!
Eventually though, just like the Israelites, I started to get my act together and take my troubles to God. Slowly but surely, as I follow the sound of His voice, I am learning to navigate this new chapter. I am remembering that achievement does not define me, nor does accomplishment, but rather the time that I spend in the presence of God, settling.
God leads by “a straight way”, in other words, he gets to the point!mhe has no desire to see any time wasted in delivering us from our distress. So often, I feel like the sheer number of obstacles, twists and turns that lie between where I am and peace make it a basically unachievable goal, but when I actually listen to the voice of God, I find the straight way. When I am listening, he leads me to a city where I can settle.
Written by Jen Grubb