A boomerang in the desert

desert

I haven’t written in months. One, I’m overwhelmed with perpetual stacks of ungraded essays. Two, I’m struggling with my own Jesus walk, sometimes feeling inadequate and unspiritual (lies of the enemy, by the way, that I’m vehemently resisting).

Then last night my own encouraging words returned to me. A young woman who’d asked for advice in 2012 emailed a report of Christ’s faithfulness. And with that report, she inadvertently attached my initial message to her. She had no idea (but God did) just how much I needed it now. So thanks, K, for recycling the truths originally intended for you. Today they’ve returned for me (and maybe for others, too).

Dear K,

It sounds as if you’re in the desert, parched with disappointment and shriveled in faith. I have been there too. Please let me encourage you with the hope of Jesus. I’ve learned several lessons walking through my own dry places, lessons that healed my heart by aligning it with God’s:

1) Cling to Scripture no matter how bleak your circumstances seem. Remind yourself of God’s presence continuously, creatively: Post-it notes on a mirror, Bible apps on your phone, praise music in the car. Say the truths out loud as if they were critical for your heart to hear. (They are.) And even when you don’t feel like it, do it anyway. That part is key.

2) Refuse to believe the enemy’s lies. Satan knows you’re wilting, and he’s erected some dangerous mirages to get you off course: Confusion, doubt, blame, bitterness. Don’t let these pools of poison near you; they can be lethal. So how can you, the weary one, go up against the tricky one? You can’t. But He who is in you is greater than any trickster. Ask God for strength. And when the enemy tempts you with desert-sized lies, send him packing.

3) Realize that the desert can be necessary. Maybe you were headed the wrong way. Maybe you needed another perspective. Maybe it’s time for you and God, together with no one else. Whatever the reason, God is with you. And there is an upside to this difficult journey, a heightened, sweet and unexplainable spiritual intimacy. You will be blessed. Encouraged. Changed. Then when you finally cross the desert, you’ll proclaim—I’ll guarantee this one—that the difficult trip was worth it.

4) Expect to trust more and question less. When this desert is just a memory (and it will be), God may or may not reveal the purpose. And while not every “why?” is answered this side of Heaven, eventually you’ll trust God even when questions linger. You’ll have mind-blowing proof of His faithfulness. You’ll begin to see that God’s greater purpose is bigger than your dreams. And He loves you enough to satisfy—especially in the desert.

The desert and the parched land will be glad; the wilderness will rejoice and blossom. Like the crocus, it will burst into bloom; it will rejoice greatly and shout for joy. . . . They will see the glory of the Lord, the splendor of our God.

Isaiah 35:1-2

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