embrace: desert

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She found herself standing in the middle of a desert. 

It was dry. Like her heart. 

The sea that had terrified her for so long, had become a sanctuary. She had gotten comfortable there.

Until, she found herself no longer keeping her eyes fixed on Him. The more she gained confidence in herself, she felt the water dry up around her. “See, I can do this on my own. I don’t actually HAVE to surrender everything.” Slowly but surely, the water began to leave. Then, she felt it.

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Oppressive. That was the only way to describe this heat. It sapped her joy.

Here she was. Stuck. Lost. Itchy.

In a desert.

Just like the Israelites……Only they had spent 40 years wandering around. She wasn’t going to take that long. She needed a plan. A way out, surely she could figure out what needed to be done. So, she began to walk. She wasn’t going to come up with a plan sitting still. Maybe, if she could find something to climb, she would be able to see well enough to find the way out of this desert. Feeling a surge of energy, now armed with a plan she set off in search of something high enough. After wandering around aimlessly and only finding the tall cacti that were somehow able to flourish in the desert air she felt her spirits deflate. There was no way she could climb the tall cactus in front of her. Back to walking she went, but the longer she walked the more she got turned around, the more lost she felt, and the more thirsty she became. Then the itching started. She felt like she was losing her mind. It began to spread over her arms. Hanging her head in embarrassment she felt herself slowing sink into the deep dark hole of depression. 

She wanted to get what the Israelites hadn’t…..she let the stories from Exodus dance across the screen of her mind. Miracle after miracle performed by God. Freedom, provision and safety. Yet, they chose to panic and complain. They had just been freed from their oppressor, and they wanted to go back, because in their slavery they found familiarity.

She began to feel her anger rise at their stupidity. How in the world could they want to go back to their bondage? The Lord had shown he could save them…He had shown He would provide. They wanted to go back? He gave them an oasis, and they wanted Egypt all over again. How could they be so stupid?

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“That’s you my beloved.”

It was the voice of her Savior once again. His voice. Piercing her to her very core. Slicing through the silence of her desert.

The very same God that had saved the Israelites, the very same God they complained against, had saved her…….. She realized that she was just like the Israelites complaining against him. 

Convicted she dropped down onto her knees into the hot sand.

“Do you trust me?

Do you love me?”

Those same words He had laid on her heart along the shore of an ocean, were once again uttered in the midst of a desert.

.

“Therefore, behold, I will allure her,

    and bring her into the wilderness,
    and speak tenderly to her.
And there I will give her her vineyards
    and make the Valley of Achor a door of hope.
And there she shall answer as in the days of her youth,
    as at the time when she came out of the land of Egypt. Hosea 2:14-15

One of my very best friends gave me that scripture last fall. In many ways it was life changing for me. At the time I didn’t know how influential it was going to be in my very near future. It was given to me as I was in the middle of surrendering to the waves. A wilderness/desert weren’t exactly in mind since I was in the midst of what felt like an ocean. After my friend gave me the scripture he told me that the Lord was bringing me into a time of wilderness. Choosing to surrender and embrace the waves around me brought peace. I thought that I had finally found healing. It was here I found myself once again becoming confident in my own abilities. What I didn’t know at the time is the Lord was far from being finished in my refining process.

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Just a few weeks into 2016, my first blow came. One week later, another. There I was facing health issues, friendship and relationship problems arising around me. Those closest to me experiencing pain that took on many forms. I didn’t get it….this was supposed to be “my year”.

Oh how selfish it sounds looking back.

Repeatedly I felt the Lord pushing me to embrace the difficulties before me. To stop fighting and just accept it and make the most out of it. A constant surrender. I couldn’t do it on my own. That much was glaringly obvious.

As the months began to pass, more difficulties arose. I was no longer surprised and with each one I realized why the Lord had given me the word embrace. Along with the word embrace, desert/wilderness also kept popping up.

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Fast forward to the month of March. A single phone call was about to change our life. Within 24 hours I had booked a flight for my parents and I to California. A family emergency involving my Mom’s aunt. She was sick and no longer able to live alone. I could probably fill a small book with all the things that went wrong on that trip. Flight mixups, all nighters, hotel issues….the list goes on. Through it all the Lord provided. The night before we headed home we drove to the coast to spend the evening at the ocean. A storm had just moved through as we pulled up. The waves were rolling and smashing against the sand. Raw power. As I stood there I was reminded of the words of my savior. He wanted me, to walk out into the midst of that. Those powerful waves. I felt like life had come full circle. Running barefoot along the shore I felt freedom in the middle of all the chaos that was now our daily existence. “I trust you” I whispered. My voice barely heard above the waves.

We began the trek back to Kansas with my great aunt who is 88 years old. I told the Lord in no uncertain terms I wasn’t sure I liked this new reality. As we drove through the desert of California and then into Arizona, the Lord gave me a new word picture. A new season.

Desert.

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My heart felt at home in the desert. I felt a peace overtake me. I wasn’t sure what a desert season was going to hold, but I was able to see the beauty as we passed through.

Upon arriving back in Kansas we soon realized that life was going to be hard for the foreseeable future. I’m amazed at the strength of my Mom. She inspires me and I hope to be half of the woman she is one day.

Over the last several months I have been in the midst of a desert season. It’s been dry, difficult and hard. I haven’t been able to write-  I haven’t felt that wild free I experienced last December. I sit down to draw, nothing. I haven’t even had a passion for coffee. My eczema, thanks to the constant barrage of stress in my life was spreading. I’ve often felt like I’m going insane. I’ve given up gluten, refined sugar, most grains, dairy and eggs in an effort to beat it (more on that some other time). As the eczema has spread, I’ve struggled with my self worth. Putting too much of my worth on my outward appearance. Embarrassment, frustration and just wanting to give up have been at the forefront of my heart. Believing so many lies. That no one would ever love me until I had it all “under control”.  The worst part of all, I wasn’t even able to share the depth of the struggles and lies with those closest to me. I am seeing however there is freedom gained when we share our struggles with those who the Lord has placed around us. So many times I’ve sat in the middle of the floor and just cried over the heavy of it all. Honestly, even now thinking about clicking publish on this post is hard. It shows what I’ve tried to keep to myself.

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One of the great snares of the Christian worker is to make a fetish of his rare moments. When the Spirit of God gives you a time of inspiration and insight, you say — “Now I will always be like this for God.” No, you will not, God will take care you are not. Those times are the gift of God entirely. You cannot give them to yourself when you choose. If you say you will only be at your best, you become an intolerable drag on God; you will never do anything unless God keeps you consciously inspired. If you make a god of your best moments, you will find that God will fade out of your life and never come back until you do the duty that lies nearest, and have learned not to make a fetish of your rare moments. -Oswald Chambers

This quote hit home….in the midst of this desert I have often longed for that “mountaintop experience”. I’ve sat down to write more times than I can count, and yet nothing would come. These words have been simmering at the surface, but nothing I could do would bring them to boiling. The lack of inspiration and creativity have been frustrating. That quote has convicted me, in this time of desert, to just do the next right thing. To trust that the Lord will bring me out, all I have to do is trust and follow. I don’t need a plan or a map…..only to trust and do the next right thing. This desert won’t last forever, but I don’t want to wait anymore. I want to stay close to the source of the life giving water, I want joy in the midst of the choking heat. I. Want. To. Live.

Fully. Freely. Fearlessly.

Even when lost in the midst of a desert.

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Maybe you find yourself lost in the midst of a desert, don’t lose hope dear one. He will turn your valley of trouble into a door of Hope. Don’t miss out on what He has to teach you in your desert.

“And now, O Lord, for what do I wait? My hope is in you.”
Psalm 39:7

In Him, Tressa

 

 

 

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