Over the Thanksgiving holiday, my kids and I made the easy four-hour drive to Peoria, IL. We like to take the back roads as it always makes for better scenery. This time, the trees had leafless branches and fields had been harvested. Vast acres of bare ground were the canvas for much of our journey. But on this particular trip, I didn’t peer over the blank fields with winter doldrums; rather, it was with a new appreciation and expectation.
I think much of this new perspective has come from reading through the book of Isaiah. This book of the Bible has long intimidated me, but now I’m captivated. This treasure in God’s Word has caused me to ponder and re-read portions (multiple times!) that at first didn’t make any sense. For me, this prophetic book has changed my beliefs about wilderness seasons. It also changed what I saw while peering over those bare acres of crop land.
Everyone has been through a “wilderness” season. Whether it be due to circumstances, or choices we’ve made and the consequences which follow. We’ve all had times of drought and wandering, seasons when nothing seems to be right, or fair. Seasons when our hearts are broken and shattered. Seasons of hardship, disappointment or confusion.
During these wilderness or desert seasons in my life, often I just need encouragement and support. For me it’s not about anyone ‘fixing it’, it’s having someone willing to be present with me and acknowledge that it’s hard. History tells me things will change, it will get better. But with all that said, if you’re like me, I just want the desert season to be over. I just want to be on the other side, and pray that I don’t have to go through it again.
Desiring a wilderness season is not something most people want. Generally, our flesh wants to run in the opposite direction. However, with this new understanding of wilderness I may not go so far as to desire it, but to be thankful for it and expectant in it. When we’re in the middle of a desert (and middles are often the hardest), it’s a challenge to be thankful. It’s not natural to be thankful for drought or wandering.
How can we possibly be thankful for and expectant in, the wilderness?
Take a look at these verses. “I will open rivers on the bare heights, and fountains in the midst of the valleys. I will make the wilderness a pool of water, and the dry land springs of water.” Isaiah 41:18 (ESV)
That ‘I will’ statement – it’s a promise from God. We have a promise that He will provide in the wilderness, there will be relief in our parched places. We
“The wilderness and the dry land shall be glad; the desert shall rejoice and blossom like crocus; it shall blossom abundantly and rejoice with joy and singing.” Isaiah 35:1 (ESV)
There will be abundance come from our desert times. I can attest to this. Some of the biggest change in my life, has come directly after a hard and challenging season. My heart was not the same, but life was put back together in a new and beautiful way.
Throughout our drive, I looked over the empty fields and rejoiced over the coming winter. We can trust God that a barren and desert-like season, will eventually spring forth new life and become spring. The soil of our heart having been prepared, ready to receive the seed. The earth will patiently waits; but the bitter cold, wind, ice and driving sleet must come first.
“until the Spirit is poured upon us from on high, and the wilderness becomes a fruitful field, and the fruitful field is deemed a forest. And justice will dwell in the wilderness, and righteousness abide in the fruitful field. And the effect of righteousness will be peace, and the result of righteousness, quietness and trust forever.” Isaiah 32:15-17 (ESV)
Contrary to how it feels in the middle, there can be a fruitful harvest from a desert. It seems counter intuitive. Similar to the Consecration and Wonders we considered a few weeks ago, we will receive the wonders of our Almighty in the gathering of this fruit. The wonders of righteousness, a peace that passes all understanding, and a trust in our Savior that lasts forever. I am expectant for these things! I am expectant for growth in my wilderness, a fruitful field to burst forth.
I want to encourage you to be curious. What are your beliefs about the wilderness? How have you, and how do you experience it? What is your response to being in the middle of it?
I want to challenge you to read Isaiah 43, focusing on verses 1-2 and 15-21. Take a look at James 1:1-3. This concept is hard, but it’s so rich. And it’s interwoven throughout all of scripture. Let’s be thankful for, and expectant in the hard stuff. Tending our soft hearts for the Lord, winnowing the chaff, ready to receive the seeds and gather fruit.
Love & Gratitude, Amy