In the Desert

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My spiritual life has felt like a desert this year.

Tumbleweeds tumbling, blazing sun blazing, bone-dry desert.

In the darkest of moments, I wonder if maybe it’s just not possible for me – to feel that connection with God again or feel His presence. I have actually questioned whether God even knows me at all- has it all been a facade?

I’ve shared these doubts with some trusted friends in Bible study as they prayed for me over the year.

Perhaps for me it just isn’t going to happen, I think.

The occasional moment of enlightenment, a scarce fervent prayer.

Those short bursts of revelation were quickly extinguished by mundane stretches or my own apathy.

No intensity. No passion. Going through the motions.

I know it’s not about feelings. I know this. I know deep down that despite my ever-changing emotions, He is who he says He is. But still, frustration.

Because if God is going to answer any prayer for me, wouldn’t it be to make His presence known and to have me feel his love?

My original plan was to wait for my big God moment…the big revelation that changed everything, the flashes of light, the thunderous voice, the epiphany.

I would wait and then share with you about the desert and how God met me after all.

But I wait, still.

When even the desire to be in the Word dwindles. I wait and I read.

When prayer feels like the last thing I want to do, I grab a pen and I write some words.

And wait.

Lately I have been reading about Job and have learned about suffering. After Job loses everything, literally everything, it’s about a thousand chapters of his friends giving him terrible advice and adding to the mound of shame and discouragement Job feels.

I had to stop around what feels like chapter 4,000. (Chapter 30).

I couldn’t do it anymore.

Not because of his friends discouraging words or even Job’s questioning.

But because I couldn’t find God.

I thumbed ahead impatiently, looking for the Chapter title, “The Lord Speaks.”

And there it is: Chapter 38. THIRTY EIGHT chapters to speak to Job. He is silent until then.

At Chapter 38 I picture a booming voice. He comes in fiercely, reminding Job of His power and his great knowledge. It isn’t exactly daisies and rainbows.

But He isn’t silent.

It is unclear how long exactly the span of those 38 chapters covered, but in the intensity of His suffering…can you even imagine how long that felt for him?

As I read the back and forth between Job and his friends, I felt this bubbling within me:

SPEAK LORD! What are you waiting for? Speak now! Tell him you’re here! Tell him how majestic you are!

Frustration literally made me close my Bible.

It’s how I feel now.

My suffering does not compare to Job’s. I haven’t lost every member of my family and I don’t have sores from head to toe. But I feel His silence and I want more than anything to feel His presence and to feel His love.

I know we don’t live on the mountaintops basking in the euphoria of spiritual highs – but what happened to my passion for Him?

I feel like an imposter as I led a group of girls at church, pored over the Old Testament with my Bible study.

Tumbleweeds.

So I wait.

Because maybe, just maybe, I’m at chapter 37.

Maybe, perhaps, I’m almost there – maybe He is just about to bring me through this drought to the land of living water. Where it’s not just “spiritual highs” that last a few moments, but a sustainable security that rests knowing His presence is with me.

Although it feels like miles away, chapter 38 could be right around the corner.

And while I have more questions, fears and doubts about God than I care to admit, ultimately I am faced with a choice – do I continue in obedience?

Do I trust Him enough to hang on?

In the waiting, I persist.

I hang on.

Because if God is who He is says He is, Chapter 38 is coming and the Lord will speak. He will move, and likely show me ways he has been moving this entire year when I have felt nothing but stagnant waters.

So with faith shaking and tired, I hold on.

When I feel alone in the desert, like everyone else is growing and I am falling away, I wait.

Because in my bones, I know He IS who He says He is and He will not let me go.

Here’s to Chapter 38.

Jenna

 

PS. The past few days, although extremely challenging, I have felt closer to God than any other time this year while listening to this song on repeat. 1,000 times amidst grief and suffering. I can barely listen it without lifting my hands in praise. I think worship just might help me out of the desert, and if you’re in one, maybe it could help you, too.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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