Family, Spiritual Life

Lead Me To The Desert

August 3, 2016

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“Therefore I am now going to allure her; I will lead her into the wilderness and speak tenderly to her.”  -Hosea 2:14

I never thought the desert was pretty. Growing up in Arizona, I’m not sure I knew the color green existed in nature until I was somewhere in middle school. Even now, as an adult, every time I fly into Phoenix for a visit I look out the window and all I see is a landscape that looks like someone took a brown crayon and just scribbled everywhere. It’s hot, rocky, full of cacti (which I have fallen into several times in my life) and did I mention brown?

To me, the desert was a place where things went to die, not come alive…..or so I thought.

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Three years ago my world was shattered. Coming to the realization that I had been sexually abused by an old boyfriend sent my life into a whirlwind. Everything I felt I had known of myself from those past thirteen years felt like a lie. I felt like I was a lie. The world I was living in, so rich with color and joy and life… all of the sudden…. felt bland and desolate.

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“Traveler, there is no path, the path must be forged as you walk.” – Antonio Machado

I had had “desert seasons” before. Moments in life where God felt far and life felt like trudging through hot sandy terrain. But this one was different. Those other wilderness ventures felt like I was just there on a visit. Like God was asking me to just take a quick pit stop, get a little sunburnt and then it was back to the cool comforts of every day life. But this time, this time felt like He wanted me to stay a while, and the thought of that scared the hell out of me.

I didn’t know how to exist in this new place God had put me. How does one live life in a place where they don’t feel alive? How can you move ahead when the road in front of you feels so unfamiliar? I was lost and looking for an oasis, a place to breathe, and all I saw was sand.

For two years I wallowed. I was mad at God for making me be in this place. For sticking me the desert and leaving me to die. Sure, there were moments where I was given a drink of water and the hope of that “better and familiar place” but it quickly passed. As days turned to weeks and then months, I slowly moved from annoyed to pissed. I had no idea who I was, who my friends were, where my life was going and if I was ever going to feel true joy again. My home was now in the desert and my spirit was dying.

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Did you know that cacti are actually the smartest plants around? Because of the climate in which they live, they are the most adaptive to surviving any type of weather. In seasons of rain, they swell and store up moisture holding in as much as they can so, in seasons of great drought, they can draw from that stored well and survive. The spikes, though painful and not always pretty are actually how they pull moisture from the air to get nutrients and fend off those that wish to attack and destroy it. The great plant of the desert is the greatest survivor. And I wanted to be just like it.

So often God asks us to come to the wilderness with Him. To the place where there is no path and the chances of survival seem slim. He brings us here not to punish us or to crush our spirits- He does it to make us come alive. Because in the desert, we have nothing but Him. He is the manna we feast on and the dew we drink. In the desert is where he shows us how strong we really are, and better yet, how strong He really is. It’s the place of no distraction except the quiet, gentle whispers of Him saying, “I love you. You can do this. I’m right here.” The desert is where I fell in love with Jesus and learned to feel alive right where I was at.

Joseph, in Genesis, was given a vision of his life at age seventeen. It took thirteen years of betrayal, slavery, jail, hatred and belittling before that vision came to pass. When that day finally arrived, Joseph didn’t raise his fist in anger at God. He didn’t say, “Screw you, why did you leave me in this place for so long?” No, instead, Joseph said that all these things had to come to pass so that he could fulfill the plan God had for him. He learned, much like myself, that the desert can be the place God uses to lead you to your dreams.

I know the wilderness can feel scary. It can seem like God has chosen to forget you and leave you for dead. But as someone who has lived here a little while longer than you, believe me when I say that is the furthest from the truth. If you let it, if you surrender yourselves to this place and the process, this desert wilderness can be the greatest gift you’ve ever been given. It can become the time you truly come alive.

Don’t be afraid my sister if you feel a bit lost. If you find yourself wandering in this strange new land uncertain of where to go and what to do next. Just take a deep breath and listen as he begins to woo you back to His heart and sets you free. And if you ever get lonely, just remember, I’m right there with you.

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  • Casie Lamb August 3, 2016 at 2:41 pm

    Heather I do want to say this post is amazing. As I’m reading it I feel like God was speaking through you to me (in a way for me to understand). As I was reading this post I was hurt from being told to be there for my family, all while I’m hurt and in tears. Even still teary eye I read your post, and you shared your feelings being in the desert is so much more than what we all know. Thank you, truly thank you for sharing this. I guess I have been in my own desert for a year and so months now, and I’m finally seeing why I am in it. And with your encouraging words, I know this desert of mine can become a wonderful grateful gift in my life. Thank you Heather, may God always show you his love for you and help you on your path with him.

  • Leah August 3, 2016 at 4:35 pm

    Wow. I just read that verse the other day and was thinking about it. This really drilled it in! And this post was so encouraging cause I’m in a desert (I’ve been for a while now) and God’s really been showing me that getting angry and trying to control my circumstances (which is what I’ve been trying to do) is NOT the right way to handle where He’s placed me. Now I need to live like it’s not a punishment. Living that out will be a tough journey but a journey I’m willing to make. Cause Jesus is by my side. Plus all y’all are so encouraging. Thank you so much Heather. <3

  • Kayla August 3, 2016 at 4:59 pm

    Wow Heather thank you for this lately I’ve felt like I’m stuck in the desert alone. So thank you for the encouragement.:)

  • Beloved August 5, 2016 at 12:48 pm

    Heather I can’t tell you how perfectly timed this was. I needed to hear this. Thank you so much.
    God had you speak this straight into my heart.
    Love <3

  • Kelsey August 9, 2016 at 11:16 pm

    Comfort to my heart. Thank you <3

  • LOU October 10, 2016 at 10:22 pm

    This is a beautiful post; I’ve been in a desert for more than a year, a spiritual desert. It led me to confront everything I knew from the Lord, even my salvation. But I have received hope through this post, my heart finally received the fact that this path is the way for the Lord to make me fit for his plan. ” […] is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God might be glorified”.