I don’t think I’ve fully felt like myself in over a year. It’s hard to even know where to begin. Some seasons are so clearly beautiful and life-giving, but there are some seasons in life that can also look like a desert -- less beautiful at first glance.
I recently came back from a trip to Tucson, Arizona. I had never been to the desert before, and had preconceived notions of what it would be like. My idea of the desert was barren, hot, lifeless and sparse (movies or cartoons often paint that sort of picture). We even catch glimpses of the effects of the desert in the Old Testament with Israel’s 40 years wandering, and in the New Testament when Jesus spent 40 days fasting alone. I simply didn’t picture the desert as a pleasant place or somewhere I’d ever want to find myself.
But here I am, in a desert -- not physically, but spiritually. I can’t quite remember how I got here or how it started, and I wouldn’t say I’ve always been grateful in this season. My thirst for God is greater than it has ever been, but so is my weariness. Most of the time I feel tired, empty, numb and alone. But unlike in any other season, I am seeing the nearness and faithfulness of God, despite my own inconsistency and lack of drawing near.
As I walked around Tucson last month, I was floored by the beauty, life and growth all around me in a place where I thought growth could not be sustained. Nature had adapted to the place God had planted it, and by his mercy still found its way to water sources and all it needed not only to survive, but thrive. It felt like everywhere I looked, I saw some of the most beautiful plants, flowers and wildlife I have ever seen.
And so I am finding it is with me. Though I’m in a spiritual desert, I am almost constantly surprised by God’s merciful blooms popping up, and his water sources nourishing me in my time of need -- satisfying and reviving my thirsty soul. I am seeing growth all around me in the very heart I’d labeled barren and dried up.
Blooms in the desert for me look like:
-- My child sleeping in late allowing me time to sneak away to the secret place
-- Deep, rich, meaningful conservations with women in my community all pouring out our hearts together
-- A new worship song on repeat that hits me right where I’m at
-- Beautiful, unseasonal weather and time outside where the sun hits my face
-- Putting my phone away long enough to get quality time with my son and hear his deep belly laugh
--And so much more…
Had I not been looking, I most certainly would’ve missed the blooms altogether. I easily would have stamped this desert season as barren, wasteful and dead. But just as the Lord took care of his people all those years ago in the desert, he is showing up and taking care of me now.
“He found him in a desert land, and in the howling waste of the wilderness; he encircled him, he cared for him, he kept him as the apple of his eye.” (Deuteronomy 32:10)
I can, by the grace of God, say with confidence that God has kept me as the apple of his eye, even in the midst of “the howling waste of the wilderness.” When I open my eyes and really look, I can see the delight of God. I can feel his love and care. And I want that for you too.
If you are in a season of wilderness or desert, I pray you are encouraged. He doesn’t waste one day. And he is in your midst, even if you don’t feel him. I pray we all have eyes to see the blooms in our deserts, and allow our hearts to be guided to the water sources he is providing.
Take hold of every moment. Instead of going numb, lift your eyes to see all that he is doing. God intends for our deserts to be places of growth, stretching, life and reaching out. May we not waste the season we’re in for lack of vision of what it could hold. May God bless you as you seek him.