My mind is still stuck on the message from a couple of weeks ago in which our Pastor talked about how God will take us out of the way in order to get us on THE way. The thing that struck me to my core is how God uses the barren, wastelands of the desert to grow rich, enduring fruit in us.

 

I have to be honest. I hate the desert. It feels liker I’ve been in one for years, when in actuality, it’s probably only been 2-3 years. In that time, I’ve felt God strip me down. He has torn away every preconceived notion that I had about myself, and shown me my own reflection in the mirror. It’s not been a pretty time. A lot of the past year and a half has been spent at home. There are parts about that that I have not handled well. I didn’t realize how much I subscribed to the “man must bring home the bacon” philosophy until I no longer had any significant bacon to bring home. In fact, probably for the rest of my life, my wife will be the primary provider of the big bacon. And while I can say that it doesn’t bother me now, there were times that I was really resentful of how things were going in my life, almost to just being downright bitter with God. And while I understand now that the desert is a purifying process, and something that we have to go through in order to be prepared, standing the midst of the hot sun, with a hot wind blowing sand in your face from all angles, it just doesn’t feel good. There have been times when I’ve opened my Bible to try and hear from God, but the voices in my head of shame and condemnation were speaking so loudly that I would just set the Bible back down. There have been times where I’ve not even picked my Bible up for days and weeks at a time.

 

And I say all of this, not to give any glory to my weakness. My point is that even in all of this, God was still, and is still, working a plan. I honestly have no idea when I will come out. But, I am more confident that ever before that what I have been going through is carrying an even greater weight of God’s’ glory on it. The things that have seated off, and been cut away from me, are being replaced by a greater sense of purpose. I’m more aware now. I can discern things a little better. My vision is becoming accustomed to seeing God in the hardest times, and because of this, I am able to trust Him more. And while God has not, and continues to not, remove the hard times, the back breaking, spirit-crushing, hard times that we continue to endure, I’m so certain that God is renewing me with every defeat, and encouraging me to continue onward with every victory. See, It’s not always the big victories that make the difference. For me, I just realized last night that somehow, God continues to wake me in the morning, even when I’m so tired the night before that my wife and I barely saw 5 words to each other. Even when the days are so full of work and children and school, that I can barely muster a thought for myself, God’s strength carries me. And for that I can only say ,”Thank You, Yahweh”. For the ways that He has provided when we have had, and still have, nothing, I can only say, “Thank You, Yahweh”. For the opportunities to speak words of encouragement and love to someone who is hurting, I can only say, “Thank You, Yahweh”.

 

And even as I hate the desert, I realize that it is good for me. It’s in the desert where our focus is narrowed. We begin to see the desert not as a huge expanse. We begin to notice each grain of sand. We pay attention to the fact that vegetation does grow in the desert, the kind that can withstand any element thrown at it. We see life in the desert, so we know that unless we just completely give up, we will not die. Sere, God does not bring us to the desert just to kill things off of us. He takes us there to grow tough stuff in us. Everyday we fight for the Gospel of the Kingdom. We contend earnestly. We fight against principalities and powers of the air. Where do we get this grit? The desert. Where do we get this will to keep going? The desert. It changes us. It refines us. It readies us to fulfill the calling of God on our lives in Christ Jesus.

 

And I’m not even close to perfection, but am being perfected. There’s a difference.

 

I’m so consumed by this thinking about the desert, and how God uses it to bring new life. That God cares enough to send us into a void, so that He can intimately shape and form us is a blessing that we should never take for granted.  He never said that we had to enjoy it. But we need to respect the fact that Yahweh cares enough to not entrust us with His mission until we can handle it. There is a world at stake. There are lives hanging in the balance.

 

So, maybe this is more of a testimony. I don’t know. I just know that I should have blogged this a week ago, but I held on to it. There’s some purpose in that as well. Only God knows.

 

Until next time, be blessed.

 

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