Wednesday, October 18, 2017

The Call of the Wild

The wilderness is not what it used to be. It’s shrinking, in both size and appeal. There are not as many pieces of land to explore, and discover, the secrets of survival. The desire to go there is not as strong. Yet, the hearts of some still long for it, for God drives us to it. He drives us away from the familiar and comfortable so we may explore, discover, learn, grow, enjoy, teach, and rest. 

The solitude of the wilderness refreshes us, yet, we can’t have the wilderness to ourselves. Nor, deep down, do we really want that. We want family and community--someone to share our wilderness with.

One says, “I can do it! I can live off the land by myself. I can survive, without help, without others, without cities, and conveniences.” But, when another, who is surrounded, no drowning, in conveniences sees this one, they laugh. “Why?” They ask. “Why do you do it?”

“Because. Just because. I can. ‘I can’ makes me happy. It makes me…alive.” They laugh again, and so I ask myself why. Do I turn away from conveniences just because they are convenient? No, for even in the wild we learn that some ways are ‘better’ than others if it makes survival easier.

So, where to draw the line?

Should we draw the line when conveniences become a snare, and cause us to lose our skill, making us dependent on them? But who, or what, do they make us dependent on? With almost every convenience comes a little more dependency on others. Ask yourself, who is it you are becoming dependent on, and what is the cost—the real cost? The reality is, we are all dependent on others to a certain degree—some more than others. Somewhere between total independence and total dependence is…life. 

Adam and Eve were told to fill the earth, with people. And with people come skills, art, sharing, community, and conveniences. Dependency, or trust in others, enabled us to do more, and do it better. Yet, some wonder, is this right? What about the tower of Babel?

The exploring, expanding, pioneering heart is in all of us. God put it there. But when the earth is filled, then what? Where do we go? What is calling us, driving us to fulfill that desire to explore and expand? All is full. Do we go back to the overcrowded cities, and save people from that jungle—those who are caught in the snare of too much, or wrongful, dependency? Do we choose a simple life, enjoying some conveniences, but refusing the ones that steal our skill, our art, our life? Just because we can, some say, doesn’t mean we should.

So where does this leave us? Do we abandon our quest for the wild and return to settle in the land of our ancestors, or our birth, is that now our calling? We all come from the same place originally, so yes, we find purpose when we return to the God of our creation spiritually, if not geographically. Yet, in this vast earth where do we settle? Do we settle, or do we press on, continuing to seek out some wild place to explore? Our hearts long for a land. For in our land we find the buried treasure of our purpose. We find home.

The fathers looked forward to the other-world country. They longed for it here knowing it is a land that satisfies. God truly is preparing a place for those seeking His kingdom--our true and permanent home. Until then, some here on earth look for the most original version of what God made. The most “untouched by humans” place. For too many people in a small space tend to make a mess of things. 

Everyone wants their own space, and when too crowded, we lose that feeling of “ownership.” Our home feels suffocating instead of refreshing, and we don’t value it as much. The land becomes stripped of its beauty when we don’t value it, care for it, or cultivate it properly. So many leave the cities and if they don’t go to the untouched wilderness, they at least search for that new suburb that will satisfy.

Yet, some find purpose in the cities, surrounded by people. Architectures that build in a way that enhances the natural beauty of a region, instead of spoiling it, have truly found their land and their purpose. Cities are full of people and within people is a “land.” Our bodies come from the earth, and we are to care for them, and see the value in them. But this includes caring for our gardens—where we live and work—for that nourishes our bodies and gives us purpose. Is that really the appeal of the wild—purpose? In the wild we rediscover the joy of simple living, and don’t take anything for granted—food, clothing, shelter, people, and the grace of God.

Listen, wherever God is calling you, go. Go to that land and meet Him there. Listen for the voice crying in the wilderness, your wilderness. Go and live in that land. Breathe, explore, and expand by teaching the next generation, as there is joy in watching the young learn and discover. As you teach children to settle in the wilderness you pursued and survived, they will build upon that. Teach them to value their land, no matter how big or small, no matter how populated or wild.

God knows when the earth is full, when the time is right for this age to end, and for the heavenly city to come. Until then, listen for the call of the wild, and settle there.