The desert and the parched land will be glad;
the wilderness will rejoice and blossom.
Like the crocus, 2 it will burst into bloom;
it will rejoice greatly and shout for joy….
3 Strengthen the feeble hands,
steady the knees that give way;
4 say to those with fearful hearts,
“Be strong, do not fear;
your God will come,
he will come with vengeance;
with divine retribution
he will come to save you.”
5 Then will the eyes of the blind be opened
and the ears of the deaf unstopped.
6 Then will the lame leap like a deer,
and the mute tongue shout for joy.
Water will gush forth in the wilderness
and streams in the desert.
7 The burning sand will become a pool,
the thirsty ground bubbling springs.
In the haunts where jackals once lay,
grass and reeds and papyrus will grow.
8 And a highway will be there;
it will be called the Way of Holiness;
it will be for those who walk on that Way.
The unclean will not journey on it;
wicked fools will not go about on it.
9 No lion will be there,
nor any ravenous beast;
they will not be found there.
But only the redeemed will walk there,
10 and those the Lord has rescued will return.
They will enter Zion with singing;
everlasting joy will crown their heads.
Gladness and joy will overtake them,
and sorrow and sighing will flee away.
Desert Darkness Like I had Never Known
2008 was as dark a time as I’ve ever experienced. I was dealing with a mystery illness no doctor could identify let alone remedy. Even after many hours of sleep, I was so staggeringly fatigued – I had to go down the stairs on my rear one step at a time. I’d awake at 2 in the morning in a full blown panic attack – an experience I’d never known
before. To add further darkness to the desert experience, God seemed to have just left me there. No matter how I pleaded, he was silent. He felt distant. It was as if he just up and left….
I was in a barren landscape; no identifiable landmarks; lost. I felt cast aside.
I had no idea how I found myself there. I was just going about life and ministry and then the darkness descended. I had apparently lost my health. Emotionally I was unglued. The future was uncertain. It’s unsettling when medical specialist after medical specialist simply says, “I can’t help you” with a sympathetic yet helpless shrug.
It’s been 10 years plus since then. I have regained some of my capacities but no where near what I had before the unnamed Asian virus wreaked its havoc in me. I still live with all the symptoms. Some days are not pleasant. The panic attacks are all but gone. God has graciously helped me to see he was there all along and was doing a deep and beautiful work in me.
Like most suffering, the process really stinks but the fruit can be beautiful.
My Desert Has Blossomed
Two years ago I sat down to write what God had taught me along the way. You can find in the book titled The Uninvited Companion. That is what I named my new physical reality, “the uninvited companion.”
The cards and letters I have received, the stories I have been told, of those who have read the book had stopped me speechless.
How can God use one person’s desert to be a glass of water for others?
Only God can make a desert blossom. A desert is a desert. Yet when a desert blooms, wow, what beauty. My physical reality still feels like a desert, yet God displays beauty in and around me constantly. This is not self-generated, it is graced.
What desert(s) exist in your life?
Divorce. Singleness. Cancer. Betrayal. Poverty. Loneliness. Doubt. Anxiety. Childlessness.
Along our pilgrimages we all find ourselves in desert places. These are places we do not see coming nor choose to go to. Suddenly we find ourselves there. Sometimes its our own fault, sometimes another’s, sometimes pain in a fallen world strikes us.
Regardless of the cause, our deserts do not outstrip God’s redemptive competency. God defines our deserts, our deserts do not define God.
He has made parts of my desert blossom. He will do the same in yours. It may be soon. It may be later in life. It will certainly in eternity. He is able. He loves each of us. He is a Father who sees and knows and is present (even if he does not grace us
with sensing his presence).
What is the name of your desert?
How has God brought beauty into your past deserts?
He will do it again. He is loving and he is powerful.