29 October 2016

An invitation in the Desert

I just lost count of how many times I've written a full page of words this week and deleted every-single-bit-of-it.  Oh writers block -- you are NO FUN.  But it was good to dump out some words to get to the ones needed to fill this space.

The last words I filled on this page were all about lessons God is teaching me in "seasons".  Such as this desert season I've been in this past year, hence the picture of the desert above.  But then I read this quote:

"I used to think "seasons" were about God teaching me lessons.  Now I realise each "season" is a loving invitation from  my Father to dive deeper into His heart of goodness".

Yeah... I hear Jesus whisper to my heart so massively in that statement.  So again, it was a "select all and DELETE".  Take a deep breath.  Go for a run.  And start over.  

It is all about the motive behind what we say, what we write, what we do and how we love.  So if I type to just fill up blank spaces and not to share from God's heart, it is just more words.  And we know this world is full of enough meaningless words.  In this desert season, I have found some great joy in learning to do life a better way.  Again.  And I'll probably be back to this place again and again and again until I step into Heaven.  I CAN NOT WAIT FOR THAT DAY.  Just sayin'.

So I tried to write up lessons learned when now I'll share more of what God invited us into as we have trekked through what has felt like a desert.  This will be the intro and I hope to keep sharing.  But no promises :).  

When you think of a desert, usually the first thing that comes to mind is the heat and being thirsty.  There's water in the desert, it just has to be tapped into and found.  It isn't easy, but oh, it is there.  Did you know... Turkana has one of the largest aquifers underneath it?  It is possible that if tapped into, it could serve the entirety of Kenya for 70 years.  And yet so many people are sick and dying from the lack of water, especially good clean water.  But there it is, waiting under the surface, below the ground their feet are walking on.

Which can be such a picture of the life we are called to by God.  We go through times where it feels like everything is dried up, where His presence isn't felt and we are just flat out weary and tired.  But if we would choose to trust God, and push past the surface of what it appears to be, there's a whole resource of living water found below.  That's the key, not trust what appears to be but trust what GOD says.  What God promises.  In the fast paced culture we live in, we want the promise land without the pruning (and that often comes in those desert seasons).  It is in those seasons of the desert where we have a choice.  Because thank goodness, God did not create us to be robots.  He gave us a mind and will and wants us to choose His ways.  But we get to choose.  He is not a controlling God, He is GOOD and loves us big.

So we can choose... will we sit back and let the weariness and heaviness hold us down in hopes that eventually this will pass?  Will we choose to make excuses and grumble our way through it?  And I've read and heard the story several times of the Israelites wandering in the desert for 40 years because of their lack of trust in God.  They grumbled and were destroyed for it.  It is always a huge red flag when I realise the amount of grumbling, self-pity and negativity that is going through my thoughts and then even worse, out my mouth.  Watch out.  Those are indicators that we are not trusting God, our faith is weak and we need to be hittin the floor to our knees, asking for His grace to give us faith to believe the best.  That greater things are ahead, He has not left us and His promises are truth.  In 1 Corinthians 10 it shares about the Israelites that went through the wilderness long ago and how we can learn from them.  The first thing I noticed was in verse 3-5, they were all drinking of the same spiritual food and water which was Christ yet God was not pleased with most of them and eventually they were scattered.  It is a scary thing that we can all be experiencing miracles and are believers and yet God is not be pleased with some... because He looks at the heart.  They were having a good ol time, celebrating, desiring evil things, idols, living as though all would be fine since here they are drinking of God's spiritual water and food.  And yet God was not happy.  Oh no, not at all.  And then some put Christ to the test and as a result, died from snakebites.  Then they grumbled and complained and they were destroyed by an angel of death.

Verse 11 says "these things happened to them as an example to us."

So, TAKE NOTE is what a huge banner says going through my head as I read through these words.

 Verse 12 "If you think you are standing strong, be careful not to fall.  The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience.  And God is faithful.  He will not allow the temptations to be more than you can stand.  When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so you can endure."  Oh, I hope you can hear the heart of the Lord in this and that it is not to point fingers at our weaknesses but an invitation from God himself to have hope, to believe He is faithful and how He will give us a way out so that -- we can endure.  I find that a lot of ways I'm tempted is not in the big evil sins but more of the subtle ways... the things I know I should do, ways I should be obedient, the things He is calling me to speak up about.  And not to retreat.  And lets not forget about those sins of getting tired and grumbling.  Yikes, how easy the negative thoughts creep in if we aren't aware.

"So let's not get tired of doing what is good.  At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing IF we don't give up"  Galatians 6:9

I should get that tattooed on my forehead.

So back to that whole comparison of how there is a massive amount of water just waiting below the surface in the Turkana desert while many on the surface are hurting due to the lack of water.

Isaiah 45:3
"I will give you treasures hidden in darkness -- secret riches.  I will do this so you may know I am the Lord, the God of Israel, the one who calls you by name.

1 Corinthians 2:10-12
But it was to us that God revealed these things by his Spirit.  For his Spirit searches out everything and shows us God's deep secrets. 11 No one can know a person's thoughts except that person's own spirit, and no one can know God's thoughts except God's own Spirit. 12 And we have received God's Spirit, so we can know the wonderful things God has freely given us.  (and I would so encourage to go read all of chapter 2 and how we have been given the mind of Christ to understand the ways and mysteries of God)

And this is what I can so feel an invitation from sweet Jesus to know... that if we would press into His truth -- His Word -- in the midst of the desert.... WOW.... a fountain of living water will spring up and the thirst we have will be satisfied.  And we will find contentment.  And this invitation to actually KNOW God and know His thoughts and his mysteries that are hidden below the surface?  It is an invite to ALL.  Not just the spiritual elite or some big theologian.  It is for us all that have chosen to follow Jesus.

I'll be honest, I used to have such a hard time reading my bible everyday.  I would for a few weeks then fall off the train.  Then would for a couple months and get in another rut.  Yep, I was a missionary and not reading my bible everyday.  I have to chuckle a bit at the guilt I allowed over it.  Scripture has always been of HUGE importance and I have always loved it but it wasn't vital to my everyday living like it should be. And then God, in His goodness and patience, renewed my mind when it came to reading his Holy Words.  Back in April as we sat on the beautiful coast of Kenya (a desert with water, ha) ... God spoke through a friend.  It wasn't a "check list" kind of way.  But just a better way of living.  The Word is life and it is alive.  And rather than feeling the need to check off so many chapters a day (which does help for some and not speaking against that) but it was such a sweet invitation from God to read what He wants to speak to my heart every morning.  Not a religious act.  But more of a "hey, i've given you all you need in this book.... to know you are loved, empowered, who you are, what you are called to and how to navigate through every situation you will EVER face on the earth."  And because I chose to hear God's motive behind why we should be diving into the Word everyday, a shift happened.

Because if we are submitted to Holy Spirit, if we have been given the mind of Christ by His Spirit, then surely we should be submitted to God's written Word.  According to 1 Timothy 3:16, the Word was written by Holy Spirit and breathed on by God.

I have found, once again.  That the invitation in the midst of desert seasons is to a love encounter with Jesus himself.  He doesn't allow the testings and hardships to come because He wants us to suffer.  I mean, sure, he warned us in His Holy Words there would be sufferings.  We live in a fallen world.  But I believe it is through those hard times that we have an opportunity to know His love in deeper ways.  In the desert, we get to choose to tap into the hard grounds or even bust through the walls we've put up from the pain in our past and let the flood gates of His love rush into our hearts.  And I am so incredibly thankful for the hard times that give us a choice to lean on our Beloved.  Not mans opinions, not on emotions (thats a biggy), not on chocolate and coffee (although soulcare is important), not on what I see or not even on our bank account.  But we get to choose to lean on our Beloved as we come out of a wilderness.

"Who is this coming up from the wilderness, leaning on her Beloved?"  Song of Songs 8:5


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