Life in the desert

I’ve been struggling lately.

Writing takes effort to connect with what God is doing in our lives. Sometimes, I don’t see His hand, and that is discouraging to me.

In an effort to find God, I started reading the book, A Praying Life, by Paul E. Miller. It’s been a while since a book has so deeply impacted me. This is mainly because Paul uses vignettes from his own family to illustrate his points, and he has a special needs daughter.

He’s put words to my longings. I now know I’m living in the desert. According to Miller, the desert is a place where there is a great divide between hope and reality. In my case, there is a great divide between my hope for Anne’s healing and the reality of Anne’s disability. And to add to the suffering, you have no idea how long you will be in the desert.

I’ve also learned that God can be close and intimate in the desert. I have experienced this. But typically, God remains on the edge, distant and elusive…  Paul Miller says God stays on the edge in order to increase your faith. I get that. God has definitely been on the edge of my life lately, and it has been difficult to persevere in pursuing God. In other words, my faith needs a lot of increasing ;-)

When God seems silent and our prayers go unanswered, the over-whelming temptation is to leave the story – to walk out of the desert and attempt to create a normal life. But when we persist in a spiritual vacuum, when we hang in there during ambiguity, we get to know God (Miller, pg 192).

When we suffer, we long for God to speak clearly, to tell us the end of the story and, most of all, to show himself. But if he showed himself fully and immediately, if he answered all the questions, we’d never grow… No one works like Him. He is such a lover of souls (Miller, pg 193-194).

I am tempted to leave the story every day. Because frankly, Jesus’ demands on my life are painful. So I am left with a choice, the same choice that Jesus gave his disciples in John 6…

…many of his disciples turned back and no longer walked with him. So Jesus said to the Twelve, “Do you want to go away as well?” Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God” (John 6:66-69).

Everyday, when I am tempted to live life apart from God, I echo the words of Peter… Lord, to whom shall I go? You have the words of eternal life, and I have believed, and I know that you are the Holy One of God.

But it doesn’t make the journey any easier…

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5 thoughts on “Life in the desert

  1. Anne says:

    I found Miller’s book to which you refer to be one of the best on prayer that I have read in quite some time. It is not a how to, but definitely when you finish you will want to incorporate some of what he shares in that book. I am sure you do identify with his family because of the demands of caring for dear Anne. And as you say, the hope and reality conflict is a daily challenge. Keep looking up and know many pray for you.

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  2. April says:

    The first thing I though of while reading this was the Israelites in the desert and everything they went through. Then this song came to mind–especially the last verse. One day we will “cross over Jordan.” I think sometimes we get to do it several times!

    The pathway is broken
    And the signs are unclear
    And I don`t know the reason why You brought me here
    But just because You love me the way that You do
    I`m gonna walk through the valley
    If You want me to

    No I`m not who I was
    When I took my first step
    And I`m clinging to the promise You`re not through with me yet
    So if all of these trials bring me closer to You
    Then I will go through the fire
    If You want me to

    It may not be the way I would have chosen
    When You lead me through a world that`s not my home
    But You never said it would be easy
    You only said I`ll never go alone

    So when the whole world turns against me
    And I`m all by myself
    And I can`t hear You answer my cries for help
    I`ll remember the suffering Your love put You through
    And I will go through the darkness
    If You want me to

    When I cross over Jordan, I`m gonna sing, gonna shout
    Gonna look into your eyes and see you never let me down
    So take me on the pathway that leads me home to you
    And I will walk through the valley if you want me to.

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  3. Margie says:

    My dear sister in the faith,

    I have lived where you are now… Thank you for being willing to share your pain, struggles and what God is showing you.
    God is faithful… yet it is so hard to understand the pain we feel at times.
    I will continue in prayer for you.

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  4. Mark Smith says:

    I understand how you feel. This verse was my anchor when I walked through the grief of my wife Paulette’s death. I stayed and walked through the desert with Jesus. So glad I did.

    –Mark

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  5. Lucel-Melody Wings says:

    You will learn to dance in the desert, recognize water deep down beneathe the parched earth (and how to siphon it up with what’s at hand), recognize the journey and the oasis along the way (even from afar off when they cannot be seen with the naked eye, but rather manifest a paritcular haze in the blazing sky), and yes, even rejoice in the journey. All of it. Yup, no kidding. There will come a time when you wouldn’t trade what you’ve gained for anything you once had, even the most amazingly wonderful stuff.

    You will experience an abiding peace and joy that will become steadfast, regardless of what the outter world and the world of emotions and thought dictate. You will grow muscles in new places and become so accustom to using them that it will be effortless, and new ways will open up before you.

    You will look back and be wowed and awed and deeply touched to the very core of your being…and in the looking back, see how He was beside you the entire journey, even when it felt like He wasn’t even in the same hemisphere.

    In the meantime, you’ll do what you’re doing: Showing up for the day, giving it your very best inching forward, even when it is of the micro size variety……honestly sharing where you are, and touching lives in ways you cannot fathom.

    Take heart dearest Kat. (And as you allow, you’ve got those of us out here who will lift you up, and hold your “knowing” until you can re-find it again.

    Love you.

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