Yesterday I mentioned a time 15 years ago when I became familiar with the desert.
Due to all that was happening in our lives at that time, I assumed the dryness and darkness in my life was simply and only because I was sinning. I wasn’t trusting God. I wasn’t thinking biblically. I was just feeling sorry for myself and wishing life was different. My and others sins were the reason why I found myself in a bad place. Period.
Deserts, to me, were ugly, hard places to avoid…especially since you only got to those dry places because of some wrong you had done. This was before Martyn Lloyd-Jones’ Spiritual Depression or Ed Welch’s Depression: A Stubborn Darkness; wonderful books that offer hope and healing to the discouraged and depressed. Back then the common thinking was depression was primarily the consequence of wrong or sinful thinking or decisions. No wonder people (including myself) were hesitant to talk about it — which is exactly what is needed!
The thought of the Lord leading me into the desert to speak tenderly to me (Hosea 2:14-15) was a surprising thought. And how in the world could vineyards — with their beauty and fruit — thrive in the desert???
Prior to the last six months, God has helped me to look back on my late 1990’s desert experience as just that: a really hard season that produced many good things in my life. During the recent challenges I’ve been walking through, though, those comforting thoughts escaped me. Over the past few weeks God has graciously brought a fresh hope-induced perspective. I am experiencing genuine relief for my soul and I will someday look back on this dry time with the same eye toward God’s faithfulness.
By God’s grace, that’s starting to happen!
Does the thought of God leading me into the desert disturb you? I wouldn’t be surprised. But if the desert was a place God led Jesus for His good, then why wouldn’t He lead us there? I can honestly say that the hardest seasons of my life are those where God did speak to me with tenderness. And on my retreat last week, He did just that.
I even received some Fatherly correction from Him. Tender. Clear. And with love. I look forward to telling you about that next week.
The desert is really hard and really helpful. Only God can do that.