The best treasure is in the desert

Hey Friends!  I’ve had some things rumbling in my heart since my last post and I wanted to share some of them with you.  If you read my last post, you’ll notice a theme there that I’m continuing in this post:  journeying through the wilderness.  My last post was on the weapon that hope is in wilderness seasons.  It cuts the head off of depression & anxiety.  When we choose hope over what our circumstances are shouting, it cripples the enemy’s attempts to pull us into a pit of despair.  When we place all of our hope in Jesus, The Hope of Nations, it is in a safe and secure place that will never let us down.  The enemy can do his worst and we can still be found “having this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain where our forerunner, Jesus, has entered on our behalf.” (Heb 6:19)

This year of journeying through a new kind of wilderness has done things for me that I never imagined it would.  I began this year seeing it as a season to “make it through”.  Zach and I saw the situations we were facing and we were confident that the Lord was working to bring us through them.  We’d lost a pregnancy & a child, a job, a car and what felt like direction in life all within a few months of each other and that was how 2017 started.  It continued with almost laughable hurdles happening that we were trying to let shape us and push us deeper into Jesus.  I was focused on getting to the end of the “hard stuff” & doing it well.  I wanted to walk through this season with steadfastness. I wanted to give that to Jesus because He is worthy.  In the good intention of wanting to “walk well” in this season, I sometimes failed to walk in mindfulness of the fact that He is never impressed with our own measure of strength J He is most pleased by the strength we learn to draw from Him.  You’ll never be able to persevere as well with grit as you will with love.  When we’re in love, we are constantly reminded that it is our lover’s delight to give us His strength.  Love is what protects us from exhaustion that comes from relying on our own strength.  As we walked forward, I never doubted who He was- a good, faithful, loving Father, but I began to realize that His timeline for breakthrough was proving to be very different from my expectation.  I was confused by the unchanging scenery of our season after month over month of obedience, perseverance, & submission to what He wanted to do through this season. 

Previously in this season when my heart had been tempted to ask “Why”, I’d been able to throw the question out by reminding myself that it wasn’t a fruitful question to ask.  It rarely leads to life.  I’d been able to dismiss it because it didn’t matter why, all that mattered was that we were obedient to His leading in this season and that this season would be behind us soon, right??  Well, nine months in to this journey and still no sight of change, I began, again, to catch myself wondering “Why is this still happening?” “Why are we still walking through this season?”  The desire to ask “why” felt different this time and I realized something.  The previous times that my heart was tempted to ask “why” I’d been able to dismiss it because I was assuming the end of the wilderness was near according to my definition of “near”.  This time, I had realized the nearness of the end of this season may not match my expectation of what “near” means.  That is when the “why” wanted to return but I wouldn’t let myself ask it.  I thought “If I ask, that would mean I wasn’t trusting fully.  It would mean I wasn’t steadfast.  Weren’t we past my wanting to ask ‘why’?  If I asked, it would mean I wasn’t doing this season right.”  I didn’t realize that me ignoring that question was actually withholding some of what Father wanted to give me in this season.

A night came in October where I just couldn’t keep the question in any more.  Hiding the question in hopes that it will go away is not the same as it not being there (I think that’s called “denial”? ).  A part of our journey this year has been not being able to conceive again after we miscarried last Christmas.  We were and still are sure Father is going to redeem that loss but we thought it would be quick (by our definition).  A year later we still had not conceived and had no answers as to why.  Any of you courageous women who have journeyed through a season of barrenness, miscarriage or infertility know the ups & downs that walk can hold.  It has refined my heart in a way I never knew it would nor ever expected I’d go through.  (Note: I call it a “season” intentionally and I will never use it as a label.  It does not define you.  You will never hear me call myself “barren” or “infertile” because that is not what my Father calls me.  Its not what He calls you either.  We were fearfully & wonderfully made in His image and his image does not contain any barrenness.)  It is so humbling to not be able to control your own body and get it to do what you want it to do when it seems like so many others easily are.  It has rid me of pride in a whole new way.  This past October, I was sure I was pregnant (you think that every month when you’re hoping to conceive but this time we REALLY felt it.)  Our hope & faith felt higher than ever that this was the time of redemption of loss.  I had several symptoms of pregnancy and we had heard/experienced several things that we thought was the Lord confirming it.  We thought even the holiday season that we miscarried in last year was being redeemed with conception for the holidays this year.  I thought this part of the wilderness was ending.  We found out later in October that we were not pregnant and I was left with a choice again: what was my response?  It was another breaking moment for me and it was when I let the “Why” out that had been peeking around a corner of my heart.   I took my disappointment and my “WHY?” to Jesus and laid them all out at his feet.  I knew I shouldn’t want to ask, but it was there and I wanted to get it out.  There I was again broken & laid down at his feet.  All the “Why” stuff just came flooding out with tears.  “What is your purpose in this season lasting so long?  Are we totally missing something?  Is there something in me/my heart that’s preventing my healing?  Are we not hearing you correctly in how we’ve sought to be obedient?…”  You name it, it probably came out of my mouth that night.  And, you guessed it, wonderful Jesus met me right there on the floor in a puddle of tears again.  He came to me and pulled me from the floor to His chest.  He wanted me to take comfort in touching Him, not just being in front of Him.  That floor became a tabernacle – a place of meeting with my King.  He will establish a tabernacle anywhere we are desperate for Him.

With every “Why, How, What?” I let out, I felt His presence fall until I was completely enveloped in the arms of the person of Jesus.  When His presence came, when my floor became the Holy of Holies, the desire to ask “Why” completely disappeared.  When I thought I wanted understanding, He knew what I needed was His presence.  That is life with him.  I don’t ever need to understand.  This fact that I knew in my head prior to that night, I now accepted more deeply in my heart.  When I was in His arms on the floor, snot dripping out of my nose, mascara all over creation, I saw that my desire for understanding had been rooted in a place of frustration at this season.  Frustration was hiding in my heart disguised as a question: “WHY?”  When I let go of my frustration, I could let go of my need to understand.  I’d fallen down on the floor with a heart of a servant girl hungry for understanding, and I rose from that same floor with the heart of a bride in love with her bridegroom and with her gazed locked onto His again.  No matter if this season lasted years, it didn’t matter.  The “why” never feels important when you’re in the presence.  The presence is the reward, weather you’re in the dessert or the promised land. 

When you’re in love, all you want is to be in the presence off the one you love.  It doesn’t matter what you’re walking through if they’re with you.  A wilderness transforms into a land of treasure when it is a place that you find Him.  It begins to look a lot more like a Promised Land than a desert when you realize how deeply you can have Him there.  He’s proven that to me over & over again this year.  When we get our eyes off the dryness of the desert and put them on Him, we see the most priceless treasure waiting for us in the sand of the wilderness.  It is uncovered by intimacy & obedience.  What if a Promised Land isn’t actually a destination at all?  What if it is a heart position, and we can have it in any season when we stay rooted in love?  He is the treasure in the dessert and I’ll stay as long as I find Him here.  I’m in my Promised Land.  One of the verses that has become a life verse for me this year is Song of Solomon 8:5 and it is what I want to share with you.  It is a picture of the treasure of the wilderness.  The Friends in Song of Solomon are looking at the Beloved & his Lover coming towards them together and they are taken back by the sight of them.  They say this:

“Who is this coming up from the wilderness leaning on her beloved?”

Can you picture it?  The wilderness is a tabernacle, a tent of meeting.  The wilderness is where intimacy is found.  Its where we learn to lean fully on our beloved.  I want this to be the banner over me for all of my life.  I can be more than content in the desert, I can THRIVE here.  I’ve found the joy and its in His presence alone.  If any of you are in a place of wilderness yourself, this is my prayer for you too.  You are in such a special place to meet Him.  I know it can feel painful and tiring, I’m not denying that, but turn your gaze to Him and behold your treasure!  When you behold Him in the desert you will feel yourself move from surviving to THRIVING.  You CAN thrive in the dessert.  It doesn’t have to be a season to “make it through”.  When we turn our eyes to Him in the wilderness, we see supernatural springs of refreshing He’s had for us all along.  We see the table set before us there with the bread of life to feast on.  When we behold Him in the desert, he turns mourning into joy of intimacy.  We lean on Him and He carries us.  I can say this now and mean it with all of my heart: it has truly been His goodness that has allowed me to stay in this wilderness so I could find the treasure that He hid for me here – more of Himself.  It is His goodness that has led me and sustained me here.  He didn’t pull me out early even when I cried for it because He knew when it was over, I’d look back and say “Did I get all of you that I could have had in that season?”  He knew my heart’s greatest desire would be Him, and He didn’t want me to miss any of the intimacy hidden for me there.  He is so good.  He is so kind.  He is faithful to turn wilderness into tabernacle.  He knows our hearts are always changed by His presence and when our hearts are changed, nothing looks like wilderness anymore.  You see love everywhere.  You see Him everywhere. 

This song came on while I was finishing this post J This was the song that Zach & I had our first dance to at our wedding.  I felt the Lord dancing with us on that day, and every time I hear it I still feel Him dancing with me.  I wanted to share it with you and invite you to dance with Him as you listen.  If you’re in a wilderness season, let the dance move your gaze to His.  You can’t dance with someone with out being in their arms, so dance and let Him hold you.  Behold your treasure and feel Him move you.  You’ll never see the wilderness the same.

PS:  Ladies, if any of you read this and are walking through a season of barrenness, infertility treatments, miscarriage or the road to adoption I want to invite you to one of the gifts the Lord led me to this year.  He introduced me to a group of women called “The Garden”.  It is an amazing community of women who are journeying through the seasons that I mentioned above.  We come together and keep our eyes fixed on Jesus and his goodness.  We champion each other to stay rooted in his faithfulness and goodness in seasons that seem to shout the opposite.  If your heart could use encouragement in your journey, we would love to have you come join us.  Here is a link where you can learn more.

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