Monday, June 6, 2022

Devotionals for the Heart: Connecting with God in the Wilderness

Reclaiming My Connection to God in the Wilderness
A devotional by Jessica Brodie

Have you ever been so emotionally exhausted you can’t really think straight, let alone relate well to the people around you?

With some family issues and a crunch of deadlines and a million things in between, I’ve been struggling this last month. I felt like that last miniscule piece of butter I’m trying to smear on a piece of toast, only it’s hard as a rock and just won’t spread right. That’s been me—spread thin, not enough energy or time or who-knows-what to go around.

It kind of crept up on me, too. I’d been fully aware of my stress level and trying really hard to combat it with proper self-care, getting enough sleep, eating well, saying no to nonessentials, that sort of thing. But sometimes, being spread thin for long periods of time just starts to take a major toll, and that’s where I was.

So last Friday morning my husband—perceptive and sweet soul that he is—told me I was way too stressed out and he was taking me camping, just the two of us, alone in the wilderness for about four days.

Now, I enjoy camping. But I think I’ve only been a total of three times, so it’s not exactly my comfort zone. While I like it and I love nature, I have to admit I wasn’t terribly excited about sleeping in a tent and roughing it when I was already feeling so emotionally and physically raw.

But Matt persistently got us all packed and prepared. I half-heartedly helped and we hit the road early Friday headed for the great unknown, somewhere in that no-cell-phone-signal zone nestled in the mountains where South Carolina, North Carolina, and Georgia converge.

Today, I literally feel like a new person.

We spent several nights in a primitive campsite, sleeping beneath the stars. We had bug spray and an awesome 12-volt camp refrigerator powered by a battery station and a very cool tiny trailer that towed our ground tent and a couple of folding chairs. While our air mattress had a hole and was worthless, at least we remembered to pack pillows this time. We saw waterfalls and slugs, rhododendron and mountain laurel. We sang along to a lot of John Denver and Johnny Cash, and even saw a rattlesnake on the road (no bears this time, much to Matt’s dismay). We went to bed early, gazing up at the moonlit sky, and woke to the chirping of birds. It was absolutely glorious.

Being away from all the distractions, even distractions we love—our kids and our cats and our dog and all the responsibilities of home and work and bills and life in general—drew us closer together as a couple.

It also brought me closer to God, and reminded me of who I really am at my core: God’s girl. Daughter of the king. Precious soul, loved despite all my flaws and baggage. One among countless points of light, all joined by the Holy Spirit in love.

Over the years, especially recently, I have learned one critical lesson that serves me better than almost any other kernel of wisdom I have gleaned in life: Whenever I have an opportunity to get outside and escape the noise, to just be still in creation, I feel so much more connected to my Creator. I am more focused on His voice and His messages, on all the important things I need to be thinking about instead of the petty or distracting swirl of everyday life.

Love looks like so many different things. This weekend it looked like me and Matt, sleeping in a tent beneath the stars, getting back to nature and the simple things in life, and connecting anew with God. It looked like me falling in love again with my true self, the best version of me, when my heart and mind and body are centered and true and more aligned with God and the wonders of this world.

Today, refreshed and rejuvenated by my wilderness wandering, I’m reminded of the words of the psalmist, and the comforting knowledge that God sees me in every moment, whether I’m deep in the serene woods or stressed out and frazzled on the interstate, whether I’m joyful or grumpy, whether I’m balanced or off-kilter:

“For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be. How precious to me are your thoughts, God! How vast is the sum of them!” (Psalm 139:13-17 NIV).

It's not just me—God knows you this way, too. We are all so very, very loved. May we never forget this.

Let’s Pray: Heavenly Father, thank you for seeing and loving me in the midst of this sometimes-crazy world and reminding me of what it truly important. Thank you for refreshing my spirit and restoring my ability to focus on Your voice and Your way. Please help me tune out the noise and focus on You even when the chaos presses in thick and close and I feel the weight of the world heavy upon my back. Help me to love others better and truly in the midst of all of this. In Your holy and precious name I pray. Amen.

Note from Alexis: Jessica's devotional message reminds me of Chris August's song "The Maker". Listen to it here.

Author Bio:

Jessica Brodie is an award-winning Christian novelist, journalist, editor, blogger, and writing coach and the recipient of the 2018 American Christian Fiction Writers Genesis Award for her novel, The Memory Garden. She is also the editor of the South Carolina United Methodist Advocate, the oldest newspaper in Methodism.

Learn more about her fiction and read her faith blog at

She has a weekly YouTube devotional and podcast.

You can also connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, and more. She’s also produced a free eBook, A God-Centered Life: 10 Faith-Based Practices When You’re Feeling Anxious, Grumpy, or Stressed.

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