Thoughts From the Wilderness

I sat down to watch a movie the other night called, “Wild.” It is not a Christian movie, but I was surprised to find God showing me many things through it, as if it were an analogy for our walks with God.

The synopsis of the movie, which was adapted from a memoir, tells the story of a woman who

decides, after the loss of her mother and the end of her marriage,that she needs to stop her self-destructive behavior. So, she embarks on hike alone on one of the country’s longest and most rugged trails (1100 miles) with no outdoor skill or experience.

Here are five things we can learn from her story:

1. Unable to lift the heavy backpack.

In the beginning of the movie, she had packed a giant hiking backpack, and as she is quite petite, it is taller and bigger than her. She struggled relentlessly to get that over-packed bag on her back, only to find that once she did, she could not stand with it on.

To many, it might be a funny thing to watch as she continues to stumble under the weight of all she is carrying. But I saw something different and I felt myself fighting back a few tears. I began to see myself, like so many others, struggling to pick up and carry my own “backpack” daily - the cross I take up and bear.

“If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.” (Matthew 16:24 ESV).

These crosses we carry daily may seem as if they will crush us under the immense power of their weight. But the truth is this: God never gives us or allows us to carry more than He can bear for us.

“We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair.” (2 Corinthians 4:8 NIV)

“I was amazed that what I needed to survive could be carried on my back. And, most surprising of all, that I could carry it.”- Cheryl Strayed, Wild

2. Quitting is not an option.

Not even a block away from the start of her 1100 mile trek and she was already having thoughts of, “What did I do?” and “I can quit anytime.” She then looked back to see how far she had come and, though only a short distance, her progress fueled her to push further rather than give up.

Once she started, there was no reason to turn back because there was nothing “back there” for her anymore. She had to strain forward into the seemingly unknown to move beyond the pain of her past. Though we may be tempted to stop, we must remember why you started.

“Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 1:6 NIV)

3. The journey alone on hard terrain.

Being in the wilderness is not an foreign concept for Christians, so we should be able to empathize with this woman who was literally in the wilderness, striving to survive while working out her many wounds left unhealed.

Many times it seems that following God is rough terrain with many hills and deep valleys, and we fear that we will never get out of the wilderness; yet there is always a way because He is leading us. We are never alone and we are never lost.

“Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me.” (Psalm 23:4 NIV)

4. Put yourself in the way of beauty.

“There's a sunrise and a sunset every day, and you can choose to be there for it -- you can put yourself in the way of beauty.”- Cheryl Strayed, Wild

This hit me in an incredibly powerful way. We have a choice. We can choose every day to get up and see and do the good set before us, or we can choose to stay in the darkness. This choice is made daily and it cannot be avoided.

“Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each morning.” (Lamentation 3:23 NLV)

5. Beautiful things in our future.

The last scene is the end of this laborious and emotional journey. It is with a new perspective she views the events of her past and she is overwhelmed with gratefulness. She had no idea the beautiful life she still had before her.

“After he drove away, I leaned my head back and closed my eyes against the sun as the tears I’d expected earlier at the bridge began to seep from my eyes. Thank you, I thought over and over again. Thank you. Not just for the long walk, but for everything I could feel finally gathered up inside of me; for everything the trail had taught me and everything I couldn’t yet know, though I felt it somehow already contained within me. How I’d never see the man in the BMW again, but how in four years I’d cross the Bridge of the Gods with another man and marry him in a spot almost visible from where I now sat. How in nine years that man and I would have a son named Carver, and a year and a half after that, a daughter named Bobbi. How in fifteen years I’d bring my family to this same white bench and the four of us would eat ice-cream cones while I told them the story of the time I’d been here once before, when I’d finished walking a long way on something called the Pacific Crest Trail. And how it would be only then that the meaning of my hike would unfold inside of me, the secret I’d always told myself finally revealed.”-Cheryl Strayed, Wild

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About the Author :

Leilani is a single mom to a beautiful 4 year old little girl. She is in love with the Creator of the stars. Her mission is simple yet so big, to encourage and bring Jesus to all in need. To bring hope by loving people, writing, photography, music, poetry/spoken word and meeting people right where they are. God's Grace is her air.