Because he is the wonder-doing God, he can turn the desert into streams, barrenness into beauty, and he can make a way of hope through our pain.
We only need to be still.
Deserts make me nervous because I can feel so lost and lonely. I search this way and that way, running here and there, but never finding what I’m looking for. I grow weaker and desperate. Panic wells up in my heart. I fear death.
Do you remember when you were a kid and what you should do if you got lost?
Stay where you are.
Let them find you.
And so it is with God. Sometimes he leads us into a desert and we wonder where he went, so we start searching for him and questioning his leading. But a desert place is a perfect place to be still.
Be still and know that he is God.
In the desert, our gimmicks and tricks for making sure all our plates stay spinning, don’t work. One by one they crumble to the ground. It’s in the desert place that we become aware of our need for God as each of our coping mechanisms dry up.
The desert place is a place to practice being still. I’ve found that in the desert place, I exert a lot more effort to do the things I normally do: prayer, church, volunteerism, parent, homeschool. Do I get frustrated when I’m in the desert? Absolutely!
But I’ve been to the desert enough times that I’m learning a new dependence on God and most importantly, how to still my soul.
When I still my soul, my eyes begin to see God working and moving. He draws me to himself when I let go of the distractions of life. He grows fruit in me. He makes my pain a door of hope.
“Therefore I am going to allure her; I will lead her into the desert and speak tenderly to her. There I will give her back her vineyards and will make the Valley of Achor a door of hope. There she will sing as in the days of her youth, as in the day she came up out of Egypt. ‘In that day,’ declares the Lord, ‘you will call me, “my husband,” you will no longer call me, “my master.” Hosea 2:14-16
I have never regretted a desert experience. I’ve seen the phenomenon of how God turns my desert into an oasis and makes something so beautiful out of something so barren. The desert becomes a place of worship, a place to eagerly meet with God, and a place to be still and know him.
Be still and know that he is God today and follow him through the desert places. He will bring beauty to your barrenness.
Who am I? Who are you? The easy answer can be found on the ID we each carry around in our wallets, but the deeper answer is more difficult to flesh out. I know at my core I struggle with my identity. I look at myself in the mirror and see a woman staring back at me, but what I see are the hurts and beliefs that I wrestle everyday with because my life–this life–is about God and how he wants me to live not about the effects of my youth that created this uneasy sense of wondering ‘who am I?’
For the last few weeks I’ve challenged my own self-perceptions, sense of belonging and confidence within the context of God’s word and I hope you’ve been challenged as well. Today begins a tackling of another subject–one I’d rather avoid if I’m being completely honest, but needing to address: Security.
My security is not found in my ability to perform because I’ve learned that performance and abilities can fail. My security is not in my reputation even though my reputation is important. My security is not in the type of family I come from, my heritage, or my pocketbook, which is a relief because I’m a melting pot of nationalities and my pocket book is usually empty.
The temptation to place my security in temporal things is strong because these are things I can see and gauge and prove to myself that I’m worth something. It’s the compare and contrast thing we do with each other: ‘How am I better than so and so and how am I worse than so and so?’ and so my security rises and lowers based on where the comparison needle lands.
But it’s exhausting, you know? When my security is placed in my own ability or in someone else’s ability, I weave and bob on a floating log in an uncertain river. I go under gasping for breath and come up soaked and shivering, but still clinging to the things that I think will provide my security: performance, people, and pocket money.
I’m learning through mistakes and moments of humility that security has nothing to do with me or with you, but God himself.
What he says about me is more important than how I feel about myself. He says that in Christ, I am chosen, adopted, rescued, complete, and given access to him. This doesn’t change based on the day when I have it all together and I’m rocking the day or the day when I have one giant fail after another.
He says I’m secure in him and this doesn’t change if I have a poor performance, disappoint people, or lost my pocket money. He is the ultimate in security. But how do we begin transferring our misplacement of security in ourselves, and other people to the King of kings and Lord of lords?
It’s allowing three key truths to take root in our heart and allowed to grow.
“There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death.” Romans 8:1-2
“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28
“For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers,nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:38-39
Satan loves nothing more than to throw my sin in my face and remind me of the shame of it. God says that since I am in Christ Jesus then I’m set free from my sin and I am free to live by him and for him. My security is in knowing that I’m free from the law of sin and death and set free in the law of the Spirit of life.
Life is hard. It just is. There’s pain, cancer, miscarriages, stillborns, death of a loved one, divorce, abuse, or addictions. And sometimes the hard is something we have to face every day and sometimes it’s a memory that lives as though it is our present. Somedays it’s hard to look past our pain to see the possibilities of what is.
And what is is this: you love God, respond to his call and he works things together for good. This concept only works when we frame it with our love and response to what God is wanting to do with our junk. My security lies in trusting God that he will turn my pain into beauty. I have to look at pain or fear or whatever in the eye and trust God with it and as he works in my heart, my insecurity is traded for security.
To understand the depth of God’s love for us can be one of the greatest obstacles to our security in Christ. Our hearts are prone to cynicism. Our minds towards doubt. We want proof and too often life proves that love is expendable. So to wrap our minds around the concept that nothing can separate us from the Love of God in Christ Jesus can feel impossible.
But what if we tried? What if you and I declared that no matter what happens tomorrow at that doctor’s appointment that we will still believe God loves us? What if you and I declared that no matter who wins the presidential election that we will not be separated from the love of God? What if you and I declared that no matter how much pain we are currently experiencing in our private lives that God’s love is still deep and wide?
What would our acceptance of God’s love look like if we separated our circumstances from God’s love for us? It would look a lot like security.