Wednesday, October 12, 2016

for when you are wandering in the desert

"I don't see the desert as barren at all; I see it as full and ripe. It doesn't need to be flattered with rain. It certainly needs rain, but it does with what it has, and creates amazing beauty." Joy Harjo

Do I see what she sees, do you? 
There is simultaneous appreciation and hesitancy when a topic presents itself among my thoughts.  It usually happens at the oddest times and then comes with a waterfall of sentences, bullet points, phrases to research, ways to connect one wayward thought with another until a large and impressive knot is formed weaving in and out of itself connected, tied together, not to be unraveled.  Even if the point behind the words is less than impressive to others, I am always stunned by God's ability to show me things through the process.  Very important and humbling for this destination hungry traveler.

I wish, oh how I wish, that these lessons more often came through Pollyanna glasses, happily smiling and seeing nothing but the good.  Oh how I wish they came through cheering successes, things you rave about, brag about, without a seconds hesitation because they look as good on the outside as they are for you inside.  There are plenty of devotionals in this world with a verse, a paragraph and a pat on the back to start your day.  I can be both frustrated and thankful that that is not what is asked of me because while neatly wrapped and tied with a bow is what our human mind desires, the understanding of the hard cleansed with the brutal sacrifice of a Savior is what our human hearts need.

Dry.  Empty.  Lonely.  Bleak.

The very definition of a desert, the desolate land, completely contradicts these words above that have intrigued my mind and caused more than a bit of reflection.  

No one can say they have not felt results of a dry season, have not seen the effects of drought.  In the physical land it causes the ground to become parched, water sources to dry up, fields to lose their ability to yield the fruit they were created for, animals to become lethargic. Desperate for water to revive them they give up and lay down waiting for the inevitable, scavenge and search, walking until they seek out their need, or look to their caretakers for the help they can't get themselves.  

Our hearts are no different.  A spiritually dry period can be much different than one filled with trials though there is hard in them both.  There will be times where, like the fields in a drought, you feel parched, dried and cracking, useless as the fruit you were created to yield can not soak in enough moisture to bloom.  Like the wildlife we are tempted to give up and take it lying down or scavenge our own way to gain some ground in the fight for survival.  But as hopelessness tries to prevail I pray the Hope within overtakes and instead there is the remembrance to look to our Caretaker for the help we will never get from ourselves.

Paul spent a better part of 2 Corinthians 11 listing the sufferings he has endured.  False imprisonments, beatings, stonings, shipwrecks, dangerous journeys, robbery, sleeplessness, hunger thirst, cold and exposure were not just bumps on the road, but daily life events.  One of these events would be enough to stop a sojourner in their tracks but for him these were far from a sign to stop, they were fuel to continue.  For the sake of Christ [he says] I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions and calamities.  For when I am weak, I AM strong.

In every movie with a desert setting from Star Wars to Fievel Goes West, countless Cowboy films to classics like Lawrence of Arabia, there is a search for an oasis, a watering hole, a place that gives life in the midst of the dry and desolate.  Once found, life inside you changes.   There in that place with life giving water, you find peace from the fear, you see hope instead of doubt, you feel revived and eyes that once only saw the barren land can focus on the beauty in the hills and valleys among the dunes.

I can see the desert as full and ripe, I can see the amazing beauty it creates, but I can't see it on my own.  I need the Hope promised, I need the eyes of Christ to see that [He] will open rivers on the bare heights, and fountains in the midst of the valleys. [He] will make the wilderness a pool of water, and the dry land springs of water. Isaiah 41:18

On my own all I see is sand, all I feel is heat, in Him I can see the land of the living and the good He brings to it.

Praying for you in your desert places, pray for me.

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