“But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.” Isaiah 40:31
The final chapter of my spiritual desert is certainly an ongoing one. The ending is not yet written. The middle of it is just that…the middle. My spiritual desert still tries very hard to creep into my life from time to time. It is so very hard to stay focused on the task of earnestly seeking God. And by earnestly seeking I don’t mean reading my Bible, taking part in a Bible study, and/or reading/writing my devotions. I mean the type of seeking that you fall on your face in prayer because you can’t feel Him at your side, or hear Him speaking to you in your daily life.
I was doing what I thought God wanted me to do….but He was still silent. I have always said that when God answers prayers he has one of four answers…Yes, No, Wait, and Are you kidding? I believe I was in a time of waiting. I thought God was being silent in my life. I believed that He was trying to tell me I wasn’t doing something right. Instead he was just saying that I needed to heal, and wait upon Him to reveal to me the next chapter in my life. I was at a breaking point of what I would call “the point of no return.” The hurt that I experienced over the last 5-6 years was so unbearably deep that He knew that I needed to heal from that to move on to His next appointed task.
So I sat. And I waited. And waited. And waited. I felt like God was never going to return to my side. I longed to hear His words in my ears. I longed to feel Him sitting beside me. I think I was blinded by a spirit I had let take a hold of me and I allowed this spirit to take my thoughts and feelings and run down a path that I had traveled many times before and was certainly familiar to me. I think I had a spirit of doubt about me. Years ago I was diagnosed with depression and was on medication for a number of years to deal with it. The medicine helped me from being depressed, but it also made me unaware of many things around me. Like my children, my family, my life in general. I was so wrapped up in my diagnosis that I was blinded by the fact that it was not depression I was suffering from…it was living in the world and not letting God handle things in His time. Praise God 10 years ago I took myself off of all of the medicine that had been prescribed and put my trust in God that he would take care of all of my needs. And He did just that. He delivered me from all of those dark times and put a renewed spirit in me that made me realize He can deliver a person from anything they want to be delivered from. That is the key. You have to want it. I was perfectly fine wallowing in my depression because it made me feel better. It was easier than getting up and fighting. So when I felt myself slipping back in that direction…I decided to skip the medication part and go straight to God.
See here is the issue. When we pastored the church in Missouri, it was a very tough church to pastor. Without boring you with the details…we went through a lot of hurt in 5 years. I miss my daughter (who’s been with Jesus for over 23 years now) but I think I buried her with less pain than we experienced over a 5 year period at that church. The town that we lived in is a very spiritually dead town and people don’t want to serve Jesus. We had death threats from church members, friends that stabbed us in the back many times, and we were even slammed on television for defending our faith while trying to run a store that sold synthetic marijuana and drug paraphernalia out of town. Even worse my extended family was at the head of some of the gossip and wrong doing. Through all of that we stood firm in Jesus and continued to spread the word of God diligently. With that….came lots of persecution. This is the MAIN reason we moved to Wisconsin. We all needed a fresh new start….we needed to shake the dust off our shoes and move on.
So fast forward to the last week or so. Richard had been off for two days and we have had a wonderful time together with our daughter home from college. I have been sharing with my husband about how I felt like I was alone in the desert…seeking God’s face and I still couldn’t hear Him or feel His presence. I knew He was there….but felt alone.
A few nights ago I was praying that God would speak to me. I asked Him to take this hurt and pain from me and allow me to feel closer to Him again. I prayed that He take it all away just as He did 2 years ago when I was having trouble drinking things with caffeine in them because it was causing cysts all over my body and covering my uterus and ovaries. I asked Him to take away my desire of it. (He did…the very next drink I took tasted like some kind of cleaner and I haven’t drank it since) I stopped praying…looked at my husband asleep next to me and wept uncontrollably. I later told Richard that I just realized that all along I have been waiting on God and I just realized that He was waiting on me. I knew He could take away this pain and hurt just as He did with the caffeinated drinks I just had to believe that He would. As soon as I was done praying I went to sleep. The last thought I remembered having before going to sleep was that of which satan put in my head….”He really won’t you know. He is going to just leave you here in this desert to rot.” I sat up in bed, husband fast asleep, and said “GET THEE BEHIND ME satan YOU HAVE NO POWER OVER ME. I AM A CHILD OF GOD AND HE HAS FORGIVEN ME!” Then I went to sleep.
I felt a little “off” all day for the next day or two. The last couple of days I have a feeling of peace that has come over me and I realized that I was allowing other peoples actions, and circumstances in my life to dictate my faith. How could I be deceived so easily? How could I have so little faith that I would allow all that I have been through to keep me from discerning what was actually happening. I keep trying to tell myself that these feelings were many years in the making and the longer I waited to trust…the harder it got to trust. I asked God where He wanted me to meet Him and he said to me “Where have you been trying to meet me?” I realized that I have been waiting for him to reach out to me, when in fact I am the one who needed to reach out. He has been there waiting all along…I just needed to once again…look up and clean out my ears.
So although I am not a huge supporter of “getting over it”….I do believe that people have to work through things and we all process things differently……I can say that I think I have felt better the last few days than I have felt in MONTHS! I even started thinking about posts on my devotional blog again….and the ideas just came flooding back in so much that I had to start a list of them. God clearly said to me this morning in my prayer time…..”it is time Jeannie.” I was so grateful again to hear His voice. I have put off writing this final part of my “Spiritual Desert” series and now that I actually have an ending to write about it was much easier.
If you find yourself in a spiritual desert…the only advice I can give is don’t look for an oasis. Create your own oasis. Create it by diligently looking for and seeking God’s face. He may be silent to you for a bit but He merely means for you to wait upon Him. It will all be in His time.