The Desert. Doesn’t really have a very glamorous ring does it? No way to dress it up, making it look pretty or even presentable.
Dry, Alone. Maybe even abandoned? It's not somewhere I’d like to visit, much less live.
Regardless, the desert has become a part of my story.
For a significant season, my husband and I lived in a community of deeply committed friendships, people we loved and trusted dearly. We were like a Mama and Papa to this beautiful, eclectic, dynamic, extended-family.
Sadly, some betrayed us, sabotaging our leadership and relationships.
It was a series of events filled with confusion, pain and sorrow. The attitudes demonstrated, the strategic ways we were undermined, and the gossip were extremely hurtful. Honestly I felt de-humanized, and discarded.
Our reputations were negatively impacted, not to mention our kids, our careers, our finances, our community, our friendships...everything. Disorienting pain, loneliness, confusion and anger...it's a numbness which cannot be denied.
Welcome to the desert. Can you relate?
I was racked with pain in a way that every movement of heart was like a stab in the chest. I remember it clearly: grasping, suffocating in the oxygen-less void of sorrow, yet desperately grasping for breath or hope.
I’m a fighter by nature, but I soon realized that all of the tools that had worked before didn’t work here.
It was as if the atmosphere had changed. Gravity no longer pulled down, like walking out your front door and finding yourself on another planet. I kept thinking, "This can’t be real. Surely, I’ll wake up and this will all go away." And God...well, "Where was He?"
Everything in me wanted to quit. But, before God, could I?
Should I quit on life? On people? On community or relationships? What about on expecting joy again, on dreaming dreams, on hope, on “my calling?” Do I quit? As I was emotionally and spiritually lying in the ICU, I contemplated this question, Holy Spirit dropped these words in my spirit. “Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.” Psalm 27:14
I would love to say that I was washed with a warm feeling of God’s closeness and goodness, and was instantly filled with joy, vision, and confidence.
Actually, the idea of waiting made me feel furious. My assignment is waiting?!? Seriously?
But sometimes the fighting stops, exhaustion wins, and waiting starts. Believe me, if I could have ripped the IV out of my arm, shed my body cast, and escaped the involuntary asylum, I would have. But when you can’t even find the feeling in your legs and arms and heart, you can’t. All you can do is wait.
I wanted to “do” something, but God wanted me to just “be”... and that meant waiting.
At first it felt miserable, like staring at blinding hot sand just wishing (or screaming) for water. But, slowly the ground froze, and in spite of what seemed like a never ending winter with no Christmas, my heart began to rest in its dormancy. And eventually (like 2 years later!) the reach of my heart, my hunger for God’s presence, my longing and desperation for Him, began to grow like the seeds in my garden reach for the sun.
Never before had I felt so “poor in spirit” and yet knew the Kingdom was within arms reach. And as my reach strengthened, I began to feel real again.
I was so blessed during this season with amazingly godly men and women, affirming this season of waiting. They listened, challenged, and helped me wait and not quit. Most importantly, they invited me to make friends with pain. These friends were “with me” in a way that I hope I can “be with" someone else someday. They sat in my anguish with me, teaching me to wait until I could see Jesus there too.
I’m not exactly sure what the next season is, but I can definitely see it on the horizon. I’m feeling thankful, alive, and human. God is whispering His dreams to me, inviting me on adventure with Him again. The longer I walk with Jesus, the more and more I experience what He experienced, even the tough parts.
Having survived the desert I realize that looking more like Him cannot be grasped by “wishing” or “believing”, but by actually walking in His footsteps.
Maybe you've gone through unexplained trials (or are in the middle of them now!) You have wondered where God is in those moments. I'm here to tell you that this raw, painful place can lead to hope. Don't quit! I've seen the other side; He will make all things new. It's what He does.
Beth and her husband, Ken, have been passionately married for 20 years and have 4 strong-willed, incredible kids. Currently on staff with CRM Leaders, they feel called to partner with Jesus as He raises up new understandings and expressions in the Church, worldwide. Beth cultivates the heart of a shepherd, a worshiper, and a disciple of Jesus. She encourages women to be fascinated with Jesus while developing sustainable rhythms of listening and responding to Him.
Besides loving on her family and friends, she can often be found playing in the garden with her dog and urban chickens in tow.