Prepared for the River
A scorpion skittered across my carpeted living room. I crushed it with my armored Nike 360s. Okay, maybe not armored, but heavy-duty. My foot carried a vengeful. grinding force as I said, “Take that, you foul pestilence.” Yes, sometimes I speak Old Testament judgement, if only against a scorpion threatening the sanctuary of our home.
We were moving to the desert. My husband confirmed our move from Green Country, Oklahoma to Midland, Texas. I looked at a map. How far west could it be, anyway? Midland was ten hours west on the edge of the Chihuahua desert. Any hope of weekend ventures back to our home of twenty-two years vanished. We drove past Wichita Falls, not realizing the last real trees waved goodbye as we sped toward small, medium and large mesquite bushes.
It wasn’t so bad. We met lovely people who became life-long friends. But God had a purpose for that desert season. Figuring out that purpose became a daily journey extending for four and a half years. I wasn’t the first unwilling desert dweller. In the Bible, I found desert seasons for many, especially when someone became His hand of healing or deliverance. Like Joseph, God knew a famine was coming. It might take a few years of injustice, betrayal and prison, but a man and his gift showed up at the right time with the right goods to save a nation.
A desert season comes unexpectedly, often with great loss. Perhaps it is the loss of a loved one, a ministry, a career or way of life. Suddenly alone, we feel isolated, aliens in a strange land. Familiar things vanish. Mesquite replaces blooming pear trees. Rain is rare, scorching temperatures common. It is like a burning bush. Its purpose is to capture our attention. As we come near, God speaks. He speaks big things, much bigger than the vision we thought died. Our knowledge of Him expands. In the unknown place we are willing to say, “I don’t understand this, but I’m still Yours.” It exposes the arrogance in, “You didn’t do it my way, God.” So what now? Die in the wilderness or let it become a place of divine preparation?
The desert place becomes a womb for new purpose. This purpose grows in a hidden place. Otherwise too many opinions war against it. The desolation of the desert offers solitude. In it, we come to an end of our opinions and begin to hear Him in a new way. At first our minds rage, “What about all my plans?” In the quiet places God whispers, “What about a bigger plan?” A heart is being prepared to receive God’s expansion, because the previous “house” was too small.
God spoke to the prophet Jeremiah. “I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore with loving-kindness, I have drawn (stretched) you.” Our preparation, though often incomprehensible, eventually becomes His answer to the cries of hurting people. Don’t despise the desert season. Look for the burning bush. The living God has deliverers in the making.