Through the Desert to the Garden

Posted by on Mar 3, 2016 in Articles | 0 comments

The sun emblazoned the crystals of sand.  Any breath of breeze picked up the sand and carried it along, throwing it into my face before swirling it across the expanse.  The heat pressed down on me, and my thirst was overwhelming.  I knew I wasn’t alone.  Turning my head to the right, I sensed a friend.  To the left – apprehension, fear.  I couldn’t, however, see anyone.  Pulling my legs up to my chest and resting my head against my knees, I whispered, “Lord, what’s going on?  Where am I and why am I here?”

 

I gasped awake.  Sweat poured from my body.  I reached for the water glass on my night stand.  I drank the glass empty.  Throwing the blankets off, I was chilled by the cold in the bedroom.  I padded to the bathroom to wash my face and refill the water glass.  Returning to my bed, I noticed the clock on the night stand read “2:38.”

 

“What a dream,” I said to myself, climbing back into bed, pulling the blankets up around my chin.  The flash of heat had passed.  I was freezing.  “Help me to sleep, Lord.  I’m so tired.  Please, let me rest.”  I rolled over and drifted back to sleep.

 

I was again seated on the mound of sand.  The heat and thirst returned.  “Drink,” I heard a voice say.  I looked down and noticed a sack.  Inside the sack was a bottle of water and a peach.  “Drink and eat.  Then follow me.”

 

I drank from the bottle and ate the fruit.  Carrying the sack, I followed the voice.  “I know it’s You, Lord.  Please, where am I and why am I here?”

 

“Just follow.”

 

In an instant, I found myself in a lush garden.  A stream flowed; birds sang; a breeze rustled the branches.  Every imaginable fruit dangled from the trees branches.  Grapes clustered on vines.  I drank deeply from the stream, plucked a few grapes from the vines and followed the Voice to the edge of the garden.  I could see fields of grain swaying in the breeze.

 

“Listen to Me and learn,” the Voice whispered.  I awoke.

 

I stayed under the covers for a long time.  My mind raced with the dream.  Recent events mingled with the dream.  There was too much to sort out.  So, for a time, there I stayed.

 

We’ve had life- issues for a long time.  Two of my step-sons, now grown men, destroying themselves.  Illness that has repeatedly invaded my body (nothing terminal, praise the Lord, but still life-interrupting).  Outside elements that seem to come from every direction.  Parents with medical problems.  My mother-in-law the most recent sorrow.  For months, my husband and I, along with his siblings and their spouses, have watched her deteriorate.  The day before my dream, she passed from this life into eternity.  We are sad to lose her, but we know that she is no longer in pain.

 

Lying in bed, sorting through the events, the dream replayed in my mind.  God’s Word and His presence filled my heart.

 

“Cast all your care upon Him for He cares for you.  Be self-controlled, watchful; because your adversary the devil walks around like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.  Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world.  But may the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered for a while, perfect, establish, strengthen and settle you.” I Peter 5:7-10

 

I turned to the Psalms.  Psalm 29 speaks of God shaking the wilderness.  I couldn’t understand why God would give me the verses from I Peter then send me to Psalm 29.  What does one have to do with the other?  I pondered it most of the morning.  Long after I slipped from under the covers and went about my morning routine, I turned the verses over in my mind.  It was later in the day that the thought occurred to me: desert or wilderness experiences in the Bible are either a time when God’s people have sinned and fallen out of favor with God.  Or it was a time of trial, teaching and/or preparation, after which the Lord called them out and into His purpose.  “Which one am I, Lord?”

 

“Both,” came the quiet whisper.

 

It’s no secret that I’m a worrier.  Read almost any of my past writings and you will see some reference to my worries or my tendency to overanalyze everything.  I am a problem solver and when I can’t solve it, I get frustrated and sometimes downright angry.  The fact, however, is sometimes we just can’t “fix it.”  We have to let it go and trust God to work it out.  The sin for me is the need to be that problem solver.  I can’t accept that I can’t do it.  It’s a pride issue.  That’s the sin issue.  And, if I don’t let go and let God have control, the enemy will destroy me (that apprehension, fear, I sensed when I looked to the left in my dream).

 

The second part of the wilderness equation: God has work for me to do.  I have to learn to listen and hear His voice.  I have to learn to wait for Him to send me forth rather than plunging ahead with only half of the blue prints in hand.  I have to surrender and let Him prepare me.

 

God made it clear to me that the wilderness time – these months of “everything hitting from every direction” – was to discipline as well as to prepare me.  He showed me that during my time in the desert, I get so focused on the gritty sand, the sweltering heat and the overwhelming thirst, but neglect the provisions God always sends – the water and the fruit – the quenching, sustaining presence of His Spirit.

 

Why the I Peter scripture?  When I come through it all, He will strengthen and settle me.  I will come into the garden, I will receive rest, I will be refreshed, restored and I will be ready, by His might and Strength and Power, to go into the fields, to do His work.

 

We all have our desert and wilderness experiences.  It isn’t a one-time occurrence.  We will go through these desert/wilderness times again and again in our lives.  When they happen, let God do His work in you.  Surrender, listen, learn.  Remember the provisions.  And when He’s finished His work, He will bring you into the garden.

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