Sonja and My “Wilderness Decade”

Sonja and I were talking recently about our “wilderness decade”.

During one ten year period Sonja lost her dad through a long, slow descent into the abyss of Alzheimer’s, I lost my only sibling—my sister, Beth, to cancer, and, for all practical purposes, we lost our daughter for most of those years during her prodigal wanderings.

As we looked back over those difficult years we both agreed that we still do not understand why God allowed it all to happen, but we did agree that that decade is what truly qualified us to minister to others.

Those years taught us submission and patience, and how to truly live by faith.

And in ministering to other, those years taught us much needed humility.  Any sense of superiority that said, “If they just had more faith,” or “If they were just closer to God,” were stripped away.   Instead, we became fellow survivors who were mostly silent with the easy-to-give-advice and instead just tried to be there for people.

Maybe you’re a fellow wilderness survivor or you’re mapping out your wilderness experience right now.  I will share a couple of axioms that did come out of Sonja and my wilderness season that we still depend on to this day.  They are: 

  • “I may not know what God is up too, but I do know God and that is enough for now.”
  • And we ask ourselves this question: “In light of our new circumstances, what has changed about God?  Answer: Nothing.  Therefore, we will choose to trust him to be faithful as he always has.

So far…so good; God truly has been faithful and someday, face-to-face, I shall see Him and I somehow feel that the questions won’t matter then.


And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.

Revelation 21:4 (NKJV)


8 thoughts on “Sonja and My “Wilderness Decade”

  1. Thank you so much, Pastor Kemp!! As so often happens, your blog spoke to our hearts. Blessings! Claudia

    Sent from my iPad



    1. Thank you so much for sharing….I can totally relate.
      And yes, HE IS FAITHFUL.
      When I can’t trace His hands,
      I can trust His heart.
      Thank you for always shining His light for all of us to see,
      no matter what your own path might be at that particular moment.
      We love and miss you!
      Rick and Nora


  2. “Mostly silent, but just tried to be there for people”-that’s exactly how I remember you both during that wilderness decade. I was a very needy (selfish) friend at one point during that time, yet you and Sonja offered me and family grace and acceptance. What I really deserved was a good shaking! No matter how far life’s circumstances separate us, I will always treasure the true friendship you offered us. I hope I never forget the lessons of your example: I always want to be a gentler, more compassionate minister than I was at that time.


    1. Ah Sue, I think you are being a little hard on yourself. You are a champ as far as I am concern. What you and Rob have done since Sonja and I have been blessed to know you is simply amazing.


  3. Reblogged this on Pastor Kemp's Blog and commented:

    This blog was posted a year ago tomorrow. I have learned through the years that most often we need to be reminded of what we already know far more than we need to be taught something new. I’m guessing that some of us may need to be reminded of the lesson given in this blog.


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