The difference between the summer wind swept desert of Iraq and the winter wind swept snow covered prairies of the mid-west are simply a matter of degree. True, there is a difference between the temperature. I saw a day when it was -20 below zero last January and this summer a day that was 147. That’s extreme. And of course miles of tan and miles of white are not exactly the same.
However, drifting sand and drifting snow are ultimately not so different. Miles of seemingly nothing, regardless of color, brings about the same response from deep within the soul for the person who seeks to be close to God. There is something within us that is awaken by the vastness of large, open, seemingly empty spaces.
“Vast open spaces” preach a profound truth. The night sky, as it sits silent and vast waiting for a new day, declares the truth of it. Each free formed wave of the mighty ocean knows the truth. The prairie as it is massaged mile after mile by the drifting snow understands it. And the desert knows it too. Here it is…
We are small and God is big. God is infinite and we are finite. God controls the universe and we do not. While I cannot even control my tongue all of the time, God controls the stars, the sun, the moon and a thousand galaxies. While I cannot add one single moment to my life, God creates life with effortless efficiency. It’s a truth every atom and every galaxy understands. God is in control.
If you are with me this far and are saying, “Yep, the chaplain is right.” Then I have a question. How is the “vast open spaces” of your heart doing? Is there a desert – dry as dust where springs and life used to live? Is there a night sky of loneliness that taunts you with the hope of light in the distance? Does it seem like cold winds are blowing across your heart and soul and you are all alone? No oasis in sight? Spiritual hypothermia setting in? If this seems true I have good news.
You are right where God wants you to be. Exactly and precisely where the God of the universe can work with you, shape you, and mold you and make you new. The psalmist writes, “a broken and contrite heart…you will not despise.” And later says, “create a new heart with in me.” The psalmist knew something about his God. He knew the truth! Under Gods steady hand – the desert blooms, winter turns to spring, and the darkness turns to light.
Let the emptiness teach you. Let it teach you that God is bigger then any circumstances. Let it teach you that your God is bigger than your pain, wiser than your confusion, stronger than your weakness and present in your "vast open spaces". If God can control the “vast open spaces” of the universe you can trust him to be in control of the “vast open spaces” of your heart.