Tag: identity

The Wilderness Test


Are you facing an unexpected wilderness time? If not now, you will. Wilderness is common to the human condition, but regardless of the number of journeys into the wilderness, we are not meant to stay there. We are meant to find fresh insight and new direction.

Jim seemed to be surrounded by wilderness.

After his divorce, it seemed life was over. For a pastor, divorce is a killer. So, Jim Palmer packed his bags and headed deep into the wilderness in search of his future, his soul. He needed to re-think everything about his life, his purpose, and his passion. It was all about him, and after a while, that subject got boring. He was full of questions, but answers slipped through his fingers.

“It was my initial thought that everyone is born to do something: A-Rod, baseball; Bono, music; Gates, computers; Warren, purpose-driven guru; and I was Jim Palmer, “TBA” (To Be Announced).

In the meantime, he worked odd jobs on the side while his search continued.

He tried a construction gig, carpet selling; for a time he was the cashier and more at CJ’s Cafe, then he endured a Christmas season working the back sector at Kolh’s Department Store.

But answers were still illusive. “With each sheet of plywood, carpet measurement, pot of coffee, and folded towel, I was sinking deeper and deeper into confusion and discouragement. I was barely able to pull my aching body out of bed for my construction job. How was I supposed to have my morning quiet time with God?”

Just when it all seemed hopeless, God sent Wanda.


During these down days, Jim found escape in the local Waffle House. There was little chance of running into someone from his past (they would be in the Cracker Barrel). It was his oasis, except for waitress Wanda, the talker.

She was a sturdy woman with a difficult and storied past written into the wrinkles on her face. And she bantered with everyone.

One afternoon Jim was drinking coffee and reading one of his Christian books. Wanda warmed his coffee and offered. “Honey, I read all that stuff. Started back in my AA days.”

“Do you go a church anywhere, Wanda?”

“I work on Sundays, hon.”

She left for other customers, then returned, “Besides, I tried all that once and it never worked for me. I guess it does for some people. I could never be one of them. They don’t want people like me. Didn’t take long to find that out. Anyway, this is my church right here.”

On his way out, Jim stopped to respond, “Wanda, I’m sorry if…”

“Jim, honey, don’t you go being sorry. I just never seemed to fit in at church, you know? I’d sometimes be in my uniform, and folks stared like I was some kind of prostitute. I ain’t no whore! I’m a waitress. Never finished high school, Jim. That preacher was way too smart for me. I ain’t afraid to admit it. Let’s just say all them fancy words don’t mean much at the Waffle House. Now don’t you think another thing about it, hon. Shoot, I might go back yet. Teach’em a thing or two.”

Visit after visit, Jim listened to Wanda’s teaching. She told of the Christian group who would pray before their meal, complain about everything, then leave a Christian tract for the tip.

Finally, the light come on. Jim needed to drop the “self-focus gig” and turn things around. He was smack-dab in the middle of a wilderness all right, but he wasn’t the only one in it. It was filled with nobodies just like him, important nobodies. Wanda changed everything. Her story opened Jim’s eyes and God revealed fresh truth. It was a God-moment of clarity. Jim had a new calling. He was called to them, these nobodies who lived outside the walls of church.

I too, learned something from Wanda. Perhaps the best question is not what are you called to do, but who are you called to?


Jim Palmer’s new calling is the heart of his short book that should be required reading for all wilderness wanderers. It’s titled, Divine Nobodies, Read it.

I think, in one way, or the other, Jack Nicholson’s famous words are fitting here: “You can’t handle the truth.”

How about you…getting a little defensive? New truth always requires fresh perspective, and handling fresh truth always forces us out of our comfort zone.

What truth is God’s Spirit saying to you in this short message?

Do you know any nobodies?


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November 28, 2011 | 0 Comments More