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We never mean to go there. In fact, the desert place is a destination we try to steer very clear of.
But every now and again, we find ourselves walking through the sand as the wind whips at our backs and the dry heat leaves us parched and out of breath.
I’ve walked through such a place as this…a desert place, a kind of wilderness, untamed and wild. There’s confusion and often a real feeling of total loss of control. It’s dry and empty…desolate. There’s a palpable numbness that overrides the senses, causing one to wonder, “How did I get here?” Clarity seems evasive and yet, there has to be a reason for walking in this place.
The other day while I was thinking about my own weary season, I was struck by a passage of Scripture I had never read before…or at the very least, had never “known” before.
“Therefore I am now going to allure her; I will lead her into the wilderness and speak tenderly to her.” -Hosea 2:14
God is speaking to Israel here. The people had been unfaithful, sinful in their ways. So, God led them out into the wilderness, a desert place. In His loving grace, He wooed them there, away from distractions and all things “comfortable” in order to bring them to a place of dependence upon on only one thing…GOD, Himself.
There are several times throughout the bible where God leads His people out into the wilderness, away from the world, the noise and all of it’s idols. But when I read this verse, it became clear to me that it’s in these seasons where we can hear God more clearly. His voice becomes discernible and He turns our deep struggles into something beautiful…a door of Hope.
“There I will give her back her vineyards, and will make the Valley of Achor a door of hope. There she will respond as in the days of her youth, as in the day she came up out of Egypt.” -Hosea 2:15
My own walk with God in the desert came recently after several months of constant circumstantial suffering. The hits just kept rolling in, one right after another with no time in between for recovery. I felt exhausted, depleted and I was beginning to lose sight of the people in front of me who mattered most. I felt completely disengaged with my children. One day blended into the next and I felt as though I couldn’t escape this constant need to try harder, be better and overcome…until one day, I just didn’t. I sat down to read my Bible hoping for a fresh Word from the Lord, but His words just bounced off the pages and into thin air. Nothing was making it’s way into this heart of mine.
And that’s the day I realized where I was. God was bringing me into a place of quiet and I was so busy doing all my striving and trying to recover from one trial after another on my own…that I was missing the still waters He was so tenderly trying to lead me to. Oh, those still waters. They are a beautiful site in a land filled with worry and fear. I dip my toes in and eventually can’t help but sit down and stay a while.
Once I allowed God to quiet my mind and comfort my heart, I could hear His voice again. I missed His tender voice. And once I was able to hear Him again, His Word came alive to me in the most profound ways. He spoke Truth I had been needing and revealed sin in my heart that I had ignored. I was struggling to find “me” in my love story with Jesus. My complacency got the better of me and I lost sight of my Redeemer, the One who works all things according to His good purposes for those who love Him.
Once I could hear my Father’s voice again and the precious Truth He had for me, I was able to find myself once more, my full identity restored.
Are you finding yourself in the desert place right now? If so, I pray you’ll rest, and be still, even in the desert places. Just keep doing the next right thing. Pray, pour out, listen, stay in the Word, stand firm and wait. Wait for His tender Voice to speak to your beautiful weary heart and see what beauty comes from the desert place He’s allured you to.