I have written and erased 4 beginning sentences of this blog post...because I am struggling to find the right words today, which is enough out of character for me that its causing my metaphorical feathers to feel a little ruffled.
I want to set up this post with a witty anecdote, or a attention grabbing quote, or a funny story...
Except I'm not really feeling like it. At. All.
What I'm feeling is...
If I were to close my eyes and form a mental picture of my internal state of being, I would envision a person stumbling through a desert with no water, no companions, no hope in sight, with only the wishful thought that maybe, just maybe, an oasis will appear before the sun and thirst lead to death.
Yes. I am aware of the supreme dramatic nature of my mental image.
That doesn't make it any less how I feel. We all feel like that sometimes. I'm just feeling too DRY to try and sugar coat it with softer metaphors, and too exhausted to try and ease you into what I'm really thinking and feeling.
Don't you ever just get tired of the monotony of it? The spiritual mountain tops and the "valleys of the shadow of death" and the flat roads that breed complacency in between?
Why must that be the way of it? Why can't it all be mountain top moments, where God feels nearer than ever, and we can hear Him and talk to Him and know He is with us?
Why do we have to walk through the desert?
Why do we experience the flat, calm road where we feel strong and capable and accomplished, and we forget to be intentional about time with the Lord...and we walk ourselves right into a searing, life-sucking desert?
Last night, once the kids were in bed and all was quiet in my house, I crawled into my bed, and I closed my eyes tightly, and I shouted. (in a whisper, because the kids were in bed after all, and I am way too smart to disrupt that by raising my voice, regardless of how much I wanted to)
"GOD!!! I am too tired. I can't keep walking. I am going to die in this desert. Do You care!?!?! Are You even there?"
And for a moment, I actually wished for the fall of 2010. Because that was a "valley of the shadow of death" for me. But you know what else it was? It was a time where He was so near that I could feel Him with every breath, and hear Him clearly.
That wish was followed by a torrent of tears. And the mental me sat down in the hot desert sand and sobbed out the very last remnants of hydration, thereby ensuring a quicker desert death.
And there was no sudden miraculous oasis that grew up to give me shade and water.
There was no booming voice from heaven to guide me on.
There was no mysterious horse to carry me though the hot sand and burning, scorching sun.
Sitting alone on my bed, my eyes shut tight and my spiritual desert yawning wide and unending in my mind's eye...there was barely even a whisper of a breath of a thought.
But I heard it. Just barely.
I picked up my Bible, and opened it to where my husband had been reading to me earlier in the week.
And I read and read and read.
And after a while, the me in the bed grew heavy-lidded.
But the spiritual me in the desert...
She stood up.
Not because there was water flowing suddenly, or a breeze soothing the heated air, or an oasis visible on the horizon...
No, the desert remains this morning. But I am not sitting down waiting to be consumed by the dry sand dunes.
I am trudging forward again.
Because I remember the hope in front of me. The sweet waters of refreshing that are available to me. The soothing Presence that is aloe for my soul.
I BELIEVE His word, His promises, and I will cling to them in the desert, while my skin is burnt and my lips are cracked and my feet are blistered and my eyes are filled with grit.
I don't want to keep walking. I am exhausted. I am spent.
Here is a word for your desert place, and mine. I pray to the Lord, God Almighty, Creator, Friend, Strong in Battle, Mighty to Save, Faithful, Peace, Full of Compassion, the God Who Sees...I pray that you will hear the truth, and that it will be enough hope for you to...
Take another step.
There is hope in front of us.
"Let us, therefore, hold tightly without wavering to the hope we have, for He who promised IS FAITHFUL." Hebrews 10:23