Isaiah 43:16-21 (the message)
This is what God says,
the God who builds a road straight through the ocean,
who carves a path through pounding waves,
The God who summons horses and chariots and armies —
they lie down and then can’t get up;
they’re snuffed out like so many candles:
“Forget about what’s happened;
don’t keep going over old history.
Be alert, be present. I’m about to do something brand-new.
It’s bursting out! Don’t you see it?
There it is! I’m making a road through the desert,
rivers in the badlands.
Wild animals will say “Thank you!”
–the coyotes and buzzards–
Because I provided water in the desert,
rivers through the sun-baked earth,
Drinking water for the people I chose,
the people I made especially for myself,
a people custom-made to praise me.
As I sit at my kitchen table with Leighton (my seven-month-old) playing beside me, I consider how God wants us to know we are “custom-made.” I sense this morning that it is not only important we believe this, but critical.
I often write about seasons on this blog. Not just the four of them, but the seasons of our lives. The journey…the long road with all its twists and turns. Sometimes our lives are saturated with comfort and ease like the best of what my NC weather has to offer. The sweet refreshing breeze of answered prayer and purpose may blow gently across our face. The warm enough for flip-flops but without the heavy weight of humidity kind of days. The pregnancy stick has two lines…we close on our dream home…a job opportunity opens up…we meet the love of our life…reunite with an old friend…meet Jesus, find the power of grace in the midst of our striving…overcome addiction, experience healing in our marriage, finally believe we are loved.
Sometimes we have to trade in our flip-flops for work boots. Trade in our sun-on-my-shoulder tank tops for a windbreaker. Sometimes the winds blow the sands of a hot and humid desert place in our eyes. It gets hard to see the purpose. Hard to hold onto the joy of the two pink lines or maintain a heart of gratitude when the opportunity we prayed for brings with it the weight of unknown territory. Instead of lifting up our hands in worship, we use them to shield our face from adversity. Our tears of confusion and weariness make tracks down our dusty cheeks. And our parched heart whispers, Where are You, God? And why am I here in the desert?
I was reminded of the scripture above earlier this morning. The words streams in the desert came to mind and heart. I won’t pretend to have the answers to your why. I don’t have all of the answers to my own whys!…smile…but I have His Word. I have what He offers to us. See, we generally don’t want water until we are thirsty. And although I typically don’t understand the season I’m in until I’m leaving it, I do know that the greatest treasure and blessing I can ever have is a healthy thirst. For Jesus.
Last week I took somewhat of a “break” from writing. Not because I don’t want to write. Goodness, I do…it’s almost like a desire that flows in my veins. A couple of years ago I finally unearthed this “talent” (reference to parable of the talents in New Testament) I had pretty much buried in the ground. As I created this blog and slowly began to share it, I learned what it means to offer back to God what He has given me. It brings me joy and a sense of purpose. I don’t go to bed anymore with a vague wonder of the regret I may have one day that I didn’t do something with the ability He has given me. The results need not be flashy and I don’t need to be important in the world. I just need to know I gave back to Him what He gave to me…that I made an investment into His Kingdom. That I didn’t waste it. But along with that I deeply desire pure motives in my writing. I never want to post just to post…for the sake of keeping readers’ attention. Trust me, in and of myself I don’t have anything to say worth reading. It needs to be Him. And I can’t know it’s Him unless I’m knowing Him. For myself. So, I needed some time to read my Bible and pray with my inner writing filter turned off. It that makes sense…
Now I open my laptop this morning to encourage you, as I find myself encouraged, that if you are in a dry and dusty season, God has promised to make a road through the desert for you. He promises to make ‘rivers in the badlands.’ And what I believe is so beautiful and life-changing is discovering, over and over and over, how Jesus is the water in the desert. We want our answers. We want relief. We pray and cry and rage because we want to get back to the flip-flops. Certainly the seasons will again change. But we will be vastly different people if we drink our fill of Him right where we are…we may know joy and peace and His presence in defining-moment ways if we choose to once again lift our hands in worship instead of shielding ourselves from the unanswered questions and discomfort. When we begin to see our greatest thirst can be generated in desert seasons of life.
See, we are custom-made. To praise Him. To know Him for ourselves. To drink in deep droughts of His presence and promise to be all that we need. In every season.