Rivers in the Desert

This is the time of year when a pall of dust begins to cover everything. Whether I wipe the shelves in the morning or not, by mid-afternoon I will be able to trace my name in the particles again.
It coats the trees and bushes near the roadway and turns them brown. It fills the sky with a pale haze every evening as the sun slips below the line of the city. It fills the air we breathe, and it daily powders our clothes on the line.
For years this was a picture of my life.
Oh, there were moments of refreshing when the rains finally came again, but most of my days felt as dry and empty as the desert. They seemed as barren and unfruitful as the withered plant in the pot on my porch ledge.

For as long as I can remember I have lived in doubt. I've alluded to my struggles with fear before, but this must be named as it is, because it is greater than just fear.
Doubt does bring with it fear, fear of everything that could happen and will happen and might happen, because it rests on lies, but doubt is worse than fear, because it trusts oneself over God.
Doubt is crippling. It makes something that could be whole into something that is broken and often useless. And that was a perfect definition of the way I lived: seeming to know truth in my head, but it never making its way to my heart. Constantly struggling with feelings, and experiences, and arguments in the deepest places of my soul was my way of life.

I read my Bible. I prayed. I cried. I talked to my husband about it. I sought truth. Yet nothing I did could destroy the emptiness that threatened to swallow me whole.
God is love, so why would He allow me to live in this wilderness?

This was my struggle, but the truth was that God allowed His people to live in the wilderness. He chose two years, and they chose forty, but He still wanted them to go through the wilderness. He just didn't want it for them as long as they wanted it for themselves.
About two years ago a truth so arrested my attention that I couldn't help but listen. I was in the kitchen one day quarreling with my old demons of doubt when a question came to me,
"Why are you arguing with lies?"
And then,
"Is that what one is supposed to do with lies?"
The doubts and the subsequent dearth had been my choice.
But what could change how I thought and thus lived?
Habits do not change over night. "The chains of habit are too weak to be felt until they are too strong to be broken," is how Samuel Johnson put it.
I had to learn to think the truth about The Truth. I had to learn to know the Truth so fully that anything masking itself as such would be seen as the impostor, even if it was me.
The water was beginning to trickle in my soul.

I set out to know God.
I thought I knew Him, but if there is one thing I've been learning the last few years is that knowing ABOUT someone or something is NOT the same as KNOWING that person or thing.
I didn't pull out a book.
I didn't buy a devotional or a study guide.
I opened my Bible, and chose my purple highlighter.
If God had revealed Himself to His children by His name, He could do the same for me.
Every time I read the Bible and saw a new name of God, I highlighted it and spent some time thinking on what it meant. After going through the entire Bible that way, I began again, now writing all the names down in a notebook, writing out any understanding I had gained, and marking names I had missed and ideas and characteristics I noticed too.
I did not do this quickly.
In fact, I did it really slowly.
On purpose.
I have been learning to know my God personally for the last two years.
He is no longer the angry Father waiting to come down on me in wrath,
the perfect Son whom I could never be like,
or the mystical Spirit that was supposed to somehow give me power to do something {what that power was for was always kind of fuzzy}.
He is my loving God who has been revealing, living, teaching, hoping, and wooing me since the day I was born, who has had a cosmic plan for my life since before time began, and who desires to be known.
As I look backwards at 2019 the words of Isaiah fill me with hope,

Strengthen ye the weak hands, and confirm the feeble knees. 
Say to them that are of a fearful heart, Be strong, fear not: behold your God will come with vengeance, even God with a recompense; he will come and save you.
Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped. 
Then shall the lame man leap as an hart, and the tongue of the dumb sing: for in the wilderness shall waters break out, and streams in the desert.
And the parched ground shall become a pool, and the thirsty land springs of water: in the habitation of dragons, where each lay, shall be grass with reeds and rushes.
And an highway shall be there, and a way, and it shall be called The way of holiness; the unclean shall not pass over it; but it shall be for those: the wayfaring men, though fools shall not err therein.

And these:

I will open rivers in high places, and fountains in the midst of the valleys: I will make the wilderness a pool of water, and the dry land springs of water.
Behold, I will do a new thing; now it shall spring forth; shall ye not know it? I will even make a way in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert.
For I will pour water upon him that is thirsty, and floods upon the dry ground: I will pour my spirit upon thy seed, and my blessing upon thine offspring: 
And they shall spring up as among the grass, as willows by the water courses.

Though He always provided manna and water in the wilderness, He never intended for the Jews to live there forever, and while He didn't let me die in the desert, He has always wanted more for me that that dry and barren place.

1 comment:

  1. "He is my loving God who has been revealing, living, teaching, hoping and wooing me since the day I was born, who has a cosmic plan for my life since before time began, and who desires to be known."

    YES & Amen!!!