wilderness: a place of refuge, restoration and grace

Have you ever been in a wilderness? A bleak, barren desert place where you felt lost and alone? I have. Many times. But mine, and maybe yours too, is more of a soul state than a physical place.

It’s an arid environment we don’t want to linger in. Many of us face deserts of discouragement, depression or despair. And they feel just as real to us as if we were in a sun-scorched land where very little signs of life exist.

When escape is possible, it’s a huge relief because we’re longing to move on. And, at first, as we begin to enter new territory, it can seem like a huge waste of time to have been there at all.

“Therefore I am now going to allure her; I will lead her into the wilderness and speak tenderly to her.” – Hosea 2:14 NIV

However, these wilderness places could be areas of soul refuge, restoration and grace, spiritual training grounds that God leads us into, or an oasis of enforced rest because we’ve become too exhausted to carry on with our usual pursuits.

If we can learn to not resist but see the wildernesses we experience as necessary pausing places in which to catch our breath, mature and grow, our fears lessen at being called to endure them for however long it takes. Then we begin to assimilate the lessons we have learnt in this seemingly inhospitable environment.


This is a desert
in all its barren beauty,
where we wilt,
desperately seeking shade,

while sun’s fierce heat
scorches our souls
and we wither within
at losing the life
we used to know.

Here we might feel alone
but a holy shadow
accompanies us as we choke

on dust, stumble and fall
because we see no way out
and do not know
what direction we should go.

All is swirling winds
that sting our faces like flint
and bring us deeper pain,

as we shield our eyes
while we’re walking blind,
full of longing inside
to move forward again.

We think we’ve become
deaf to God’s voice
in this wild wilderness,

but it has somehow
penetrated us soul deep,
as if his wisdom

has been instilled by soft
osmosis in our hearts
and we discover it as we depart.
© joylenton

desert - sand - wilderness poem excerpt (C) joylenton @poetryjoy.com

“Who is this coming up from the wilderness leaning on her beloved?” – Song of Songs 8:5 NIV

God keeps us company and waters our souls in the wilderness so we are never as alone or deprived as we might feel. After six long months of absence, He unexpectedly released me back into blogging last week over at Words of Joy – which can now be found at joylenton.com. And He has graced me to resume here too.

I was amazed to still be standing after the Christmas holidays, never mind receiving a fresh supply of cognitive if not physical energy! So to be coming up from the wilderness is a gift I don’t take for granted.

As always, I’m completely dependent on God for the ability, strength and focus to write. But I hope you will stick around, wait for the words to come, maybe peruse the archives if you are new here, and allow me a bit of settling in time as well. Thank you! 😉💜

20 thoughts on “wilderness: a place of refuge, restoration and grace

  1. Dear Joy,
    Thank you for sharing these beautiful words today. Oh how well I know that feeling of being in the wilderness. This part of your poem especially touched me:

    We think we’ve become
    deaf to God’s voice
    in this wild wilderness,

    but it has somehow
    penetrated us soul deep,

    He truly gives us “grace sufficient to survive any test” (I love that Michael Card song also.) Thank you for being such an encouragement and blessing on this journey, dear friend. Welcome back, I’ve missed your thoughts here so much. May the Lord bring you such blessings as you go forward step by step with Him. Love and Hugs across the miles!

    • Dear Bettie, our stints in the wilderness are made more bearable by God’s presence, and in knowing we are accompanied by our brothers and sisters in the faith. It’s hard for all of us but we certainly receive ” grace sufficient to survive any test” and are given the means to endure. Thank you for your warm welcome! It feels good to be back in the land of the living, although I’m having to rest and pace so I don’t get too exhausted by it. Slowly, slowly… Because I really don’t want another health relapse. Love and hugs to you too, dear friend! xo 😊💜

  2. Oh what a gift to find your words here, Joy. Your poem is so so beautiful. Especially the way it ends:

    has been instilled by soft
    osmosis in our hearts
    and we discover it as we depart.

    I think I will copy your last stanza into my journal to remind me of the GOOD God has worked in the deserts He has taken me through. We are told godly sorrow leads to repentance without regret: that is reflected so well in your final stanza for me, and also in Bettie’s beautiful words today also. You are both such gifts of grace to me. May God continue to reveal the fruit of your abiding in Him and may He continue to pour in fresh reserves of energy. Much love xxx

    • Hello Anna, it’s a gift to see you here, my friend! I’m very slow at keeping in touch but I have appreciated your lovely emails and the songs you’ve sent to help lift my spirits. Copy away if anything here speaks to you! I know you have had prolonged spells in the desert yourself and also witnessed being renewed again. You are such a beautiful gift of grace to me and so many. God keeps giving you fruit from the hard. It’s inspiring to watch. Much love. xo 💜❤

      • Thank you for your gracious comment, Anna, and honest confession. It helps me feel a whole lot better about my inability to keep on top of my Inbox! One day I might conquer it…by God’s grace. Xox 😉💜

  3. Oh, Joy, it’s so nice to read your words again. I love your poetry and I love pretty much everything Michael Card sings. These particular words of your poem ring so true:
    “…as if his wisdom

    has been instilled by soft
    osmosis in our hearts
    and we discover it as we depart.”

    Much love to you with many blessings, my dear sister/poet/friend! xoxo

    • Oh, Gayl, you say the nicest things! This writer’s soul thanks you for appreciating the words God lays on her heart to share. Even in your own hard and painful situations, you always find a way to see the good and reach out to others as well. Much love, blessings and hugs to you too! xoxo 💜❤

  4. Beautiful and poignant post, dear Joy. The following words of yours are ones I can especially relate to at this time in my life: “…spiritual training grounds that God leads us into…” I’m also grateful for His arm to lean against.
    Blessings ~ Wendy Mac

    • Dear Wendy, that freely proffered arm makes all the difference in how we cope, doesn’t it? It also signals how we’re not meant to face the hard by ourselves. Support is always available to us but we often neglect to ask unless we’re desperate. Our spiritual training grounds are places we’d rather not be in, yet once we leave them we can see their worth and grasp the lessons they have taught. I’m so pleased to see you here and truly thankful to have an opportunity to bless you. May you sense that support close at hand as you look for help and lean on God. He’s big enough to take the weight of whatever burdens we might carry. Blessings and love. 💜

  5. I love that you’re back to sharing your encouraging thoughts and poems again, Joy. But remember to give yourself grace, too. 🙂 The Hosea verse gives me a needed reminder that even when we’re in the wilderness, God speaks tenderly to us. But what you write is often how it feels. How we think we’ve become deaf to His voice. But what an amazing gift when “it has somehow penetrated us soul deep.” Love and blessings of strength in every way!

    • Dear Trudy, I really appreciate your words of wisdom. In seeking to give out to others we tend to forget to nurture our own souls and physical state. But without that vigilant care we soon fall and fail. Especially if we’re also battling health challenges. It’s a deep encouragement to be reminded of God’s tender care when we’re at our most weary and vulnerable. I’ll take the blessings you have named, and I’ll speak them over you as well, my friend. Oh how we need the kind of strength which only God can give us! May you receive it too to get you through these winter months when you need it most. Blessings, love and hugs! xo 😊💜

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  8. “We think we’ve become
    deaf to God’s voice
    in this wild wilderness,

    but it has somehow
    penetrated us soul deep,
    as if his wisdom

    has been instilled by soft
    osmosis in our hearts
    and we discover it as we depart.”
    Joy, I love the way you put profound thoughts into words. It good to see you writing again.

    • Shirley, I’m grateful God gave me these insights and the means of expressing them. And it’s a joy to be back to writing again! I so missed the interactions with other bloggers, like you, my friend. 😊❤️

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