“Oh, Lord, how long will you leave me helpless in a weary land.”
The Lord is good and has blessed me, but I was again feeling low and downtrodden.
This scene years ago was one of my days of wandering in this wilderness. The feeling was unexplainable and very real. Prayer and God’s Word are very real also, but feelings sometimes seem to have the upper hand.
“O Lord, hear. O Lord, forgive. O Lord, hearken and do.
Defer not, for thy own sake, O my God.” (Daniel 9:18)
At the time of His choosing, He answered my prayer.
When life seemed so bleak, the Lord heard my cries and spoke as He often does by His Spirit. In the middle of my distress was the assurance of His presence.
“Yes, this world is a wilderness; but
I have brought you out of the pit.”
The vision I had was of a desert with nothing living; no people; no trees; no vegetation, only dead weeds; and only a lonely existence with cloudy skies. I was there to endure this barrenness, and to experience His grace in the middle of it.
In the distance was a wide black cavern. It appeared wider, deeper and darker as He led me closer. Around the cavern was a tall fence, and He led me to look through the slats into the pit below.
Leaning against the sides of this black hole were ladders. On these ladders were people trying to get out. The ladders were too short and the people could not climb over the fence.
Even though there was a stench, I was drawn to see the depth of the blackness and, by His light, to see the people. Those in the bottom of the pit were watching with amusement the wickedness being committed in the darkness.
The cries of others were mixed with the sounds of corruption.
I was reminded of the words in 1 John 5:19 “the whole world lieth in wickedness.”
The ESV translates, “The whole world lies in the power of the evil one.”
It was in this vision that my view of the wilderness changed. It became a reminder for the remainder of my pilgrimage that the wilderness is the place God provided for our first parents when they were ejected from the Garden; this wilderness through which He would bring me to Himself for eternity. Here is where the Glad Rule was established for Jerry and me.
The Psalmist’s words became mine as I was reminded of the miry clay and the rock.
“He brought me up also out of an horrible pit,
out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock,
and established my goings.”
As I watched, there were some being airlifted by His Holy Spirit.
It is God who brings us out and leads us to rejoice in this wilderness.
“My soul melteth for heaviness:
strengthen thou me according unto thy word.”
“In the pits” is a common expression to describe the feelings of depression. “Down in the dumps” is another means when things are not going well for us, or when some physical malady brings us down. We sometimes stay there without trying to get out ~ unless God works through our circumstances to bring us out.
Other times we look for help, either by sharing our feelings with someone; or we use alcohol, drugs, or some other method. The world offers many kinds of therapy for this condition.
Many times, even from childhood, this malady was part of my life. As with other children who grew up with parents who have lived through the Great Depression of the 1920s, our environment was not always a happy one. Not taught the principles of the promises of God, we were prone to look for the worst in everything.
God was gracious in my childhood to introduce me to His Word, though it was not what I relied on as a child. During the 1940s, public schools were free to pray and speak of God, but He was not the main theme. God was not the principal but men promoted what the world set forth for their own benefit.
In addition to the Depression, my parents grew up with the superstitions of their day ~ black cats, ladders, bad luck, etc. Then my generation added Mother Goose Rhymes, Pop Goes the Weasel, and such songs that have no reference to God and His promises. I saw my generation as the lost generation.
Even though a war had ended, we were left with only the ashes of hope. For most families, God was not known, even to those who attended houses of worship. The church was only a place to congregate and share each other’s woes.
According to the preaching of hellfire and brimstone, all our troubles were the results of our own doing. If only we would turn from our sins, God would be gracious to us and make life better. But, even those who had believed, been baptized and joined the church had no better hope than those who did not believe. They did not live by faith in God’s provisions, but by sight, according to the circumstances of the day.
“The pit” is a horrible place to be and sometimes this is the only place some people know. Their whole life is a pit and they have no control over their circumstances. Until a person comes to faith in God, through the redeeming work of Christ, life on this earth is but a pit, a preface to the eternal pit that is prepared for the devil and his angels.
Things may seem to go well at times ~ when we have accomplished something on our own ~ or someone has been good to us. But these are only temporary. We cannot place any hope in other people or these things.
Our only hope is in God our Father through His Son and His Holy Spirit ~ knowing Him, His promises, His presence, and power for our deliverance and guidance through this life.
(This post in two parts is an excerpt from The Pit and the Wilderness and Other Visions of God’s Grace. Visions and poems are few and far between for me. They are never spectacular but simple and usually to the point of a special truth He wants to reveal. Part Two explains more of the Lord’s plans for us as we live in the wilderness, trusting Him and waiting for the new heavens and new earth.)
Dear Father, thank you for your truths by which you minister to us in this wilderness; for your Word of Life in Christ and the power of your Holy Spirit. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.