Strength For Today

A journey of keeping my heart, mind, and body in TODAY

Desert Living

on April 4, 2014

When I think of a desert, there are some words that come to mind:

dry

parched

empty

desolate

hot

famished

exhaustion

desperation

uncomfortable

Any movie that I have ever seen that has a desert scene in it, has fit this image of a desert that I currently hold in my mind.  I have never actually seen a desert, not with my eyes – but I believe I have been there.

I think that what I have been experiencing over the past few weeks could qualify as being a spiritual “desert”.  I was recently reading on this topic and read about how a “desert time”  is a time of  “simplicity, purification, and asceticism. In so many of the great figures of salvation history–Abraham, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, Isaiah, Jeremiah, David–a period of testing or trial is required before they can commence their work. And where does this testing often take place? In the desert.”  (Fr. Robert Barron)  He also referred to “desert time” as being a time where a person comes face to face with the sins that still reside in their heart and life.

This has definitely been where I have been wandering lately.  God has been showing me that some remnants from my past still hang on inside my heart – even though I had thought I had completely let them go.  He didn’t do this in a way where I felt condemned and worthless.  And He didn’t do it all at once either – Thank Goodness!  But He has been revealing to me some things that have made me feel pretty uncomfortable.  He has been creating opportunities for my worst character defects to come shining through – allowing me to have awareness of their presence.  He has been granting me space to see these sins in my life, confront them, wrestle with them, and ultimately lay them down at the foot of His Cross.  Let me tell you, it has been an uncomfortable time for me.  I have had many days where I felt spiritually empty, spiritually dry, spiritually hungry and thirsty, spiritually exhausted, and spiritually desperate.  I have had moments when I wanted to walk away, moments when I have fallen on my face, moments of crying out, moments of acting out, moments of fear, moments of total trust and faith.

As I was walking in the midst of those moments, I wasn’t seeing the big picture at all.  I was so consumed with my circumstances, my emotions, my fears and failures – that it was nearly impossible to see God’s hand in it at all.  I was struggling to pray, struggling to write, struggling to stay focused on anything for a significant period of time.  My thoughts were characterized by self-preservation, self-satisfaction, self-sufficiency….it was all about me.

As I am beginning to emerge from this time – and I say beginning because I am not sure that God is done with me in this place just yet – but, as I emerge, I am beginning to see.  God has been showing me how things are fitting together.  He is revealing some of the connections between my circumstances and His plan.  He has be restoring my sight, restoring my joy, restoring my faith and trust in His Word.  And I must say – I am breathing very large sighs of relief.

People tell me that God places us in the “desert time” for specific purposes.  They tell me that a time of testing, of confessing and repenting, of learning how to die to “self” at a deeper level….that these times are an indication of the Lord preparing us for something.  I have to admit that I am praying they are right.  I am praying that the ups and downs of the past few weeks/months have been God chiseling away at “Dawn” in order to continue growing me closer to Him.  I have to admit that I am absolutely willing to endure whatever God has in store for my life, as long as the outcome is a deeper, more personal, more intimate relationship with Him.  That is my only stipulation.  I will walk through the fire, for I know that it is in the fire where the refining takes place.

As I continue to become aware of God working in this space and time in my life, I just find myself filled with gratitude. Gratitude that He is using my life to make a difference in His Kingdom.  I don’t know about you, but to me – that is a pretty incredible honor.

So, for this desert time, Lord, I say a simple yet extremely heartfelt and honest, THANK YOU! Amen

 

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