Posted by: Mark Nielsen | August 30, 2008

Our Inner Human Frontier

What with the DNC in Denver, and my recent excursions to the woods of Illinois and Wisconsin, I’ve been thinking about new frontiers and wilderness lately.

“The wild” figures prominently in many genuine, spiritually transforming experiences: in our willingness to be “tested, in surrendering to the wild, unpredictable, often radical will of God, the Spirit strips away so many of the false things we had previously (and foolishly) come to depend upon.

Often an external crisis brings on these chastening, refocusing, “desert” experiences. But there is a vast inner expanse of unexplored territory in the heart of every human, too. There are places inside ourselves we don’t want to go, the inner frontiers where some secret desire or shame lives. It is in our readiness to accept those shadowy parts of ourselves, and in submitting those crazy, pioneering desires to the God Who Provides, that we stand the best chance of becoming whole. We may not be given everything we want, but in learning not to need it so badly, we will definitely be given all that we need. Though It need not always be an intense experience, I suppose each day should have a smaller version of that same surrender of control we go through in entering the wild.

For me, today, that involves ministering to my wife by doing something I don’t really want to do: helping to tend our garden (an apt metaphor, to be sure). It is not a classic wilderness excursion — more of a taming of the wildflowers, really. It does not require much courage or involve great peril. But the growth opportunity is in the simple agreement to get off my duff, to cooperate on a common task, and to cultivate (the relationship, that is… cultivating the garden is secondary, though the discipline of it is also meaningful and has a good payoff).

This Labor Day weekend, whether you’re going away or staying home, there are still inner frontiers to be explored. You might not even have to get off the couch to get there. But it’s hard, important work, nevertheless.


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