And everything changed.
But suffice to say, we've become who we are—both as individuals and a couple—by walking through the wilderness.
Though I couldn't have articulated it two years ago, this is exactly why I wanted to move to Kosovo. I remember being overwhelmed by the big institutions we were entering into—adult life, marriage, careers—and intuitively knowing that we needed to withdraw. Not necessarily into a literal wilderness, but somewhere away from America, away from our usual comforts and crutches.
Like the Spirit sending Jesus into the wilderness to fast and be tempted, I felt absolutely compelled to walk into a place I knew would be hard.
I sensed that in order to get where we wanted to be in our marriage and our lives, we needed to go somewhere that would make us humble and hungry. We needed, essentially, to fast. To get away from distractions—even the good ones like our families and our State-side communities—and the comfort of our own culture in order to see something even better. To see God's plan for us, and enter the culture of his kingdom.
I used to think that fasting was kind of weird and masochistic. I mean, what glory would God get from me being hungry and grumpy all day? But then I tried it, and I soon realized how powerful it was. When I go without, all the junk in my heart comes out. I'm an emotional wreck. I reach the end of my strength and character. And it is there that God meets me, takes me higher.
This is what Kosovo has been for us.
We have been weak and sometimes downright grumpy, but we have found our hunger for God and his kingdom. We have relied on Him for everything—finances, community, health, and daily strength for the task. We have let him strip our lives down to the bare minimum. All while knowing that this wilderness is better than any comfort, any safe road.
Of course, you don't have to go to Kosovo to get to this point. You don't even have to leave your home. But you do have to be willing to let God lead you through the wilderness, whatever that might be in your life. Maybe it's letting go of your finances—believe me, guys, God provides. Or maybe it's stripping away distractions that keep you from growing in your marriage or other relationships. Turning off the computer, or putting away your phone for a while. Or maybe, it's traditional fasting. Sinking into the hunger and really dealing with the anger, depression, or bitterness you've buried deep in your heart.
The wilderness lays our lives bare before God, so he can do a good work in our hearts and prepare us for the season to come. As I'm writing about this in my book, I'm realizing how much God desires for his children to walk into these places with him, trusting him to guide them through. I'm hoping that Sam's and my testimony will help people to have the courage to step into the wilderness.
I'm hoping that you, today, will be brave. And embark.