In the wilderness I will make a way

"Into the Wild" © by Jef Murray—(Click sketch for artist's gallery.)

“Into the Wild” © by Jef Murray—(Click sketch for artist’s gallery.)

“In the beginning, when God created the heavens and the earth—and the earth was without form or shape, with darkness over the abyss and a mighty wind sweeping over the waters—Then God said: Let there be light, and there was light” (Genesis 1:1-3).


The Right Perspective

What do I have to offer that is worthwhile for others to read? What words can I write that have not already been penned? Is there anything original left to say? Is it vain to try? Of what use are my thoughts; aren’t they simply lost in a crowd when added to the silent yet confusing cacophony of written words already inked? If someone needs an answer or inspiration, he can pick up the work of a sage or literary great and find enlightenment on almost any subject. Saints and philosophers have done a much better job than I ever could of expressing something true and inspiring, something that honors God and perhaps helps someone navigate through life.

This is what was swirling in my head as I sat uninspired at the desktop computer, trying to come up with some thing that would honor God, reveal some small truth, or encourage someone to find meaning in life, or a way to serve the Lord, in my column. I had carved out some sacred time, late at night, to write, (with the goal of being helpful) but the contemplations were stale…no, not even that. They were absent. The knowledge of my smallness in the world was enough to silence words, quiet my thoughts, and still my fingers at the keyboard.

I felt humbled, and alone.

I looked around. If it were daytime and my children were sufficiently occupied, I may have gone outside to walk, or sat by a window and looked at the landscape and plentiful birds that hopped, flew and perched on the property, finding inspiration in a quiet prayer. But it was dark, and snowy, and the birds were certainly hiding away so I simply sat.

Have you ever felt like that, in your own little world, just a bit useless? The joy of your work dulled? Like a musician with no notes, an artist with no color, like an arid riverbed parched , water evaporated from the heat?

Ironically, in this emptiness lies the treasure—the gem, the truth:  The barrenness can be a gift, and in it we can be closest to God. It is not until we are empty that God does His best work in us.

A cup is useless if it is already full.  We must empty our thoughts and our very selves so God can fill us up again. If we are full of us, we can’t be full of Him.

The Artist needs a blank canvas to fully fill with His colorful masterpiece. The Musician needs silence to arrange notes into His perfect melody. The Master Writer works best with a blank sheet. And our Lord needs our souls, unattached to our own thoughts and inspirations, to fully reflect His.

To fully be a channel of God’s grace, by which others can hear His voice, know Him, See Him, encounter Him, we become less, so He can become more. This realization, in the silence, slowly crept over me, that God is fullest in the pregnant pause, the white space, the silence, the rest. We encounter Him when we are empty and it is He who fills us completely.

His Light penetrates our darkness.

Irony of ironies as I was putting this on paper, I realized the nothing becoming something was actually occurring. When I emptied my thoughts, when I did not depend on myself, God gave me something of value to say.

We can be channels of God’s grace in our creative work, but also in our every day life. The secret is to empty ourselves of our desires, relinquish control, and listen to that still small voice which belongs to the one who is Truth, Beauty, and Goodness. When we are empty, He is free to fill us, and then we can bring Him to others.

We need never worry that we won’t have the right things to say, that our best efforts are not enough. He takes the lowly, like Moses, and the imperfect, like Peter, and the sinner, like Mary Magdalen, and in their lacking, in our lacking, he offers bounty…if we humble ourselves to accept it.


“Remember not the events of the past, the things of long ago consider not; See, I am doing something new! Now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? In the wilderness I will make a way, in the wasteland, rivers” (Isaiah 43:1819).

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