I'm so grateful for all the healing God has done over the years. This post was originally written in a very dark time. But the reminder is for me or anyone in a difficult place. We can not only survive, but learn to thrive in the desert!
During our trip to Israel in 2000, I learned a bunch about perseverance. Being June, we often encountered some pretty hot temperatures. Our daily routine was to be on the bus by 7am heading to somewhere none of us but our leader and driver knew, and then judging the coming challenge of the hike based on how many water bottles we were told to carry along. The “two plus an extra 1.5 liter” was always daunting. It was going to be hot, little shade, uncomfortable “two-three minute rocks” to sit on when we did get breaks, and digging deep within to keep one foot stepping out in front of the other. Walking in the desert requires focus, determination, and lots of faith.
While the years and counsel have given me tools for a more steady gait, in my life’s desert, I have wished that someone would have been there to warn me when it was going to be a “two liter-and-a-half bottles of water” kind of journey. At times I found myself reeling … pacing the room wondering how to find focus enough to cook the green beans and get them on the table for supper. At different points in the journey, I wondered what to do with the incredibly deep ache that finds its way out in my sobs from the hidden recesses of my soul. I sometimes had even lost the ability to even let my body do its natural thing and needed to literally remind myself to breathe and eat.
There were times when I took the long way and tried with all my might to avoid, to skirt around the outside, to pace the outside of the “thing,” anxiety building. But the only way through is to just keep walking.
When the day has been one struggle after another with work stress, heavy issues for the kids, and life demanding more than I can give piled on top of wading through the grime of the sin that has weighed down so many of my friends and family, I have to just keep walking. If I stop moving, even if it is just to rest, I fear being engulfed. I have to choose to press forward.
I’ve been challenged to stop and let the pain be felt, let my heart be heard and recognized, resist moving to the “but” that gets me from the ache to the hope. I recognize the need to feel it, but I just can’t bear to stop and gaze at it for too long. Somehow if I keep moving, even at a snail’s pace, I’ll be moving toward the hope, out of the center of the pain to the healing edges where I can peer out at wholeness.
Life is cluttered with those dark and troubling times … BUT God is still on the throne, he is my shield and refuge, he watches over me and my girls with his tender power, he is our pillar of fire and our cloud of smoke. God is a God of the journey, a walk in the desert … with just enough shade, manna enough for each day, and water from a rock. Certainly he’ll lead me to his rest if I just keep breathing and walking, trusting him with the distance and the time it will take.
Lord Jesus, thank you for giving me the strength and courage to keep walking.
Thank you for being the hope I can hold on to.
Thank you for walking the journey I am on before me
… for knowing what I need to survive the desert and providing it each day.
Help me keep my eyes on you so I can keep walking … sometimes even on the water!