A Tornado in a Desert
Wow it's been a while. It's a little embarrassing - I feel like I've neglected this platform for a while. Forgive me. I promise I wasn't writing anywhere else...it's only you. It's always been you.
It's interesting because my writing has been a product of the ways the Lord has stirred my heart through so many different interactions, moments, songs, study...and there has been no lack of that during this silent treatment, that is for sure. I just, for some reason, haven't felt led to put any of it to paper. Not that the Lord hasn't been teaching me...and I have tried to be all ears, but sometimes I can be a little hard of hearing so He has to lay it on thick. Oh 2020. I don't think I am the only one feeling like this year is a bit of a pressure cooker!
This year I would equate to both a desert and a tornado. Maybe we will call it a tornado in a desert...not like a measly tumbleweed being blown by the breeze...I'm talking F-5 swirling winds. So meet me here in the desert, where the land seems barren (whether that be bank accounts, social calendars, feelings of connected-ness leaving and a feeling of remoteness and disconnectedness creeping in - physically or emotionally or spiritually). Now, the tornado in the distance; it also is swirling with debris seeming to come out of nowhere when we just dodged the other one (anything that is collateral damage from a world pandemic, like job losses, E-learning (help me!) to spending a months earnings on Clorox wipes and toilet paper (KIDDING! Obviously, there was also paper towels and rubber gloves on the receipt. Kidding again....no I didn't hoard. Don't eye roll at me, Karen). The tornado is uniquely threatening to us because it is picking up new debris we would have never expected to be layered on: a divided country, racial injustice, loss of loved ones, health issues, strained relationships, depression and even suicide and child abuse. This tornado is no joke.
Okay, so this is super uplifting, I know. I have laid out how fun 2020 has been. BUT I want you to know Who is with us in this tornado in the desert and what He is doing for us. This time in the desert has taught me a lot. From many different angles. And that isn't very comforting, I know. That a world pandemic and all that 2020 has brought to the table is simply a teaching moment for me. I don't mean to make it seem trite...so simple and unimportant. Rather, it is teaching me about Someone bigger than myself. It is teaching me to be more like that Someone, and it is aching my heart for others to have the same hope it is pointing me to.
So, on that note, I am going to flip the script on you. I am going to show you the GOOD of what is happening (at least some of it, obviously I am not God and do not know all things, nor even a decent amount of the said things). But I desire to point you back to the very One who has allowed us to live in this desert, surrounded us with a tornado and who at the very same time is present in it and perfectly good.
How the waterless, barren land can be a good thing.
Many of the plants that survive in the desert have a very common characteristic: their roots go DEEP into the ground. The drier the desert, the deeper they have to plunge into the earth to find water. If they don't, they simply won't survive.
A believer in Christ, a child of God, must look at this as a necessary response (sometimes it takes us a beat to get there): deepen our roots. Lean in harder. Get closer to the Source. And I am not saying that if we don't root deeper into our firm foundation that this life as we know it will be over (as is the very destiny for that literal desert plant that cannot root). There is common grace in there that allows us to meander on with our scarce water sources.
As believers I do think we can be in a temporary dry season with a real possibility of redemption; and I'm certainly not saying that you can lose your salvation in a response to a trial...but I do believe that if our roots do not deepen and we instead find apathy and dry up our desire and dependency on Christ, we will certainly not find life in alternative sources. We will have an unquenchable thirst being teased like a drop of water on our tongue every so often (just enough to not faint) with the unsteady and fleeting stand-ins we turn to when we feel like we need something to cling onto (for many we can cling to hope in the next phase...the "when this is over/when I just have this/I'll finally be happy when" mentality, or even clinging tighter to the things that somehow haven't dried up from this, or perhaps trying to control even more the things we still have in our grasp). No life stage, relationship or physical thing this world can provide is an adequate and dependable water source for thriving - especially when we find ourselves in a desert.
So it makes our roots go deeper. All good and fine. So why is that a GOOD thing? Can't we just stay at the surface and enjoy the rains without needing the drought? While some of us may wish that to be the case, we wouldn't find the real Source without it. We'd worship the rains, not the Rain Maker. It is in God's grace that He brings us to these deserts where he leaves our hearts barren, where we have to realize the desert is dangerous and unpredictable and we need a reliable source of life. The only life that can bring a beautiful garden in the midst of a desert. We cannot get to the point where we can flourish in the desert without eternal perspective and hope in Christ for so much beyond the here and now. While the desert is one of many many ways He can bring a child to dependency on Him, He lovingly uses moments like this to wake us up and - for many - He uses this barren climate as the first awakening into an abundant life in Christ.
If our roots don't find and anchor deep into the Living Water we were made to have, we will not know Eternal Life; if we stay in this dried up, apathetic, world-dependent place; we will continue to shrivel up with the world.
These winds, reckless as they may seem, are not just whipping you around without direction.
"Before a seed can take root, it must land in a good place to grow. Since seeds cannot walk, they rely on other methods to spread out. One way is to ride the winds." (article I stumbled upon about desert plants)
Jesus's word alone can calm the winds, can split a sea, can cause an earthquake that makes walls crumble to the ground. His word spoke this entire universe into existence. You must understand He is in control of it, and He is purposeful with it. What the wind does, what it brings into your life and where it takes you, has purpose and it matters.
What Jesus may be doing with either the stripping down or the harsh winds, is moving you to a different spot where your heart can actually take root. He can be taking you out of a situation that is wedging you from Him, has too many rocks and overgrown plants or root systems in the way of your ability to anchor - sometimes where you are has too much of your heart. Where you are, is too comfortable and won't allow you to get any deeper with Him without some increased thirst. Where you are feels like you are getting along just fine with the world and there is no need for change.
If God has better plans for your soul, He will send a gust of wind. He will ensure you get to that spot of ground that has the soil that your heart needs to survive.
The wind also may be full of debris that is landing right smack dab where you are. Colliding with each step you try to take. God very well could be using this debris to break down idols (things in your life that you were worshiping above Him; that were taking priority in your heart when they didn't deserve it, and God can't stand for you to find less joy in the creation when you can know the Creator and true joy in Him).
That debris flying around may remind you of the brokenness of this world - or reveal how broken it is for the first time. The debris may knock you down and discourage you, but what it ultimately does is points you to the One who is right there with you through all the pain and hurt. The One who's heart breaks at acts of hate and death because that isn't the way it is supposed to be. The One who knows rejection and abandonment all too well. The One who knows deep physical and spiritual pain as He was tortured, nails driven through His hands and feet. The One who shouldered the immense weight of your and my sin on a wooden cross on top of a hill.
Friend, if you are hurting. If you have felt the drought. If you have felt the pain of debris whipping around you, know that none of this compares, even comes close, to the embrace your Savior has waiting for you. The strength you have to endure all things in Him, with your heart close to and eyes fixed on Him. If you have come out unscathed. Bravo. Karen is taking names and submitting those to management for further review.