Over these past couple of months, I’ve been blessed to have the opportunity to travel quite a bit. In July I went to Montreal with my big sister, Naomi and about a week ago I got back from a trip where I went to see friends in Albuquerque, NM and Denver, CO. Spending time in New Mexico was particularly interesting to me as I’ve never been in the South West before and the culture, landscape, and people out there are perhaps some of the most unique I’ve experienced in the states.
Spending time in the desert was a treasured experience and I loved the subtlety of it. I would wake up and there would be a cool breeze. I’d get ready, eat breakfast on my friends porch then we’d head out for the day. My first day in Albuquerque my friend insisted I take a bottle of water with me on our travels. I didn’t think I needed it, but desert heat is different to tropical heat (I do live in Florida after all). It sneaks up on you. You start off thinking ‘oh, this is nice. There’s no heat’ then four hours later your throat is dry as hell, you’re sweating and you’re struggling to breathe. That water bottle comes in mighty hand at that point. The heat crept up on me. It wasn’t direct or in my face, no it was slow, steady and almost secretive. After spending a few days out there, I could see how being stranded in the desert could be torturous. But it also gave me this incredible appreciation for the life that managed to survive out there. Small patches of plants and wildlife flourished, and that was intriguing to me.
I left the desert for the green mountains of Colorado and didn’t really think about surviving in the desert again until the Sunday I got back from my trip. My mother’s church had a guest speaker from England, and the pastor (a long time family friend) insisted we attend the service. So my entire family dragged ourselves out of bed and attended the service. During worship, I felt the presence of God and became emotional (as I sometimes do ). And during that time I began to write. Now, there have been many times in my life when I feel the presence of God and I just start writing. I’m usually half crying through it and can’t understand what I’m writing. As silly as this might sound to some people, I know the thoughts that pour out of me during that state are not my own. I truly believe they come from God, and when I finished writing and read what I’d written, I was amazed to see it was about the desert.
A subject that in the Bible is often used to represent a time of hardship or seeking, but somehow as taken on a new meaning for me after actually experiencing the desert. To me, it’s more about appreciating what the desert can teach you and make you appreciate. Anyway, I think this particular combination of words is meant for more than just me. So before I share a little of what it means to me, here it is:
And if I tell you to move
It’s not to set against you or to hurt you
I know there are things that you desire
Things you don’t understand why they are being denied to you
But have you stopped to consider the wonder of the desert
There is a way to be made; an endurance to be created
Since while it may seem all-consuming at this moment, your life, your work is vast and there is a time I must bring you through
A time where you are seemingly denied every desire of your flesh
But my dear it’s only a time, only a moment in our love story
And I know you resent me, I know there is pain but I’m still here. I am still loving you even though it seems I couldn’t be further away
This is not a punishment or an unasked for sacrifice. It’s a time for me to stretch your heart little by little
And if you have to weep, if you have to crawl through the pain and heartache know that I am walking beside you, wiping the sweat from your brow and ready to carry you if need be
But you’re my daughter of Zion and you are stronger than you think. So focus on this, focus on the green pasture, just over there
Over the next hurdle. It’s right there and I promise it’ll be more than you can imagine if you can make it through this desert with me at your side.
For me, this word came at a time when I’ve felt a little lost and confused. I’ve always had specific dreams but since graduating from college it seems like the struggle just to live and take care of my responsibilities has overshadowed those dreams. I’ve also had some things that I really wanted denied to me, and right now it hurts. But in the long term it may turn out to be something that makes me stronger and more of the woman God wants me to be. In short this word reminded me that I know what I want; I just have to be faithful enough to fight for it.
And being in the desert for a week showed me that although it can be exhausting, there is a real beauty in the act of walking through a desert and choosing to see the life that grows where nothing is supposed to. If fields of sunflowers can bloom in the desert heat, then I can endure and I can make it to whatever lays beyond the next hurdle.
I hope it inspires you too.
Until next time,