Thursday, August 22, 2013

Dealings in the Desert

Dry. Dusty. Parched. Yep, it was definitely the desert. But there was no sand, because the desert was not external. It was within me, and I wanted out.

desert

It was years ago, but I clearly remember how I sat in church before the service started, wondering how it had gotten so bad. So much had pulled at me, draining me until I had nothing left. Life; kids; relationships; job—it was a struggle to balance it all, much less try to do it well. My heart, desperate for a fresh touch from Jesus, echoed the cry of this verse:

As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, my God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When can I go and meet with God?                                   Psalm 42:1-2

Right on the heels of acknowledging that came this thought: if I can only touch the hem of His robe, that will be enough. Jesus had been known to work in this way before.

A large crowd followed and pressed around him. And a woman was there who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years. She had suffered a great deal under the care of many doctors and had spent all she had, yet instead of getting better she grew worse. When she heard about Jesus, she came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak, because she thought, “If I just touch his clothes, I will be healed.”                                                                                                             Mark 5:24b-29a

Like the woman in those verses, I didn’t feel like I deserved more than the slightest touch from Jesus, a touch I might even have to steal. Like the woman, I received so much more.

Immediately her bleeding stopped and she felt in her body that she was freed from her suffering.                                                                                                                           Mark 5:29b

Like her, my meeting with Jesus that day was life-changing. While neither of us may have felt like we deserved more, Jesus stopped what He was doing. He saw us, spoke to us, and with deep affection He called “Daughter”. Seeing beyond the circumstances to the faith, however timid and imperfect, that dwelt deep in the hidden places of the heart, He encouraged us to acknowledge our need. Then He gave so much more than we were asking for.

He poured out grace and mercy, affirming His ability and willingness to help. And in doing so, He brought healing, hope, and restoration.

Tears saturating the dryness, the emptiness swallowed up in worship. It was like standing under a waterfall of God’s grace.

waterfall of grace

And I wallowed in His presence.

For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever!                                                             Ephesians 3:14-21

Further reflection:

1. Have you ever experienced a similar desert-type experience?

2. What was the root cause of it?

3. How was it resolved?

4. On the flip side, describe a time when you experienced the overwhelming sense of God’s grace and presence.

Father, I cannot remember that time without feeling both the overwhelming need for Your presence, and the overwhelming joy of wallowing in it. Thank You that it is Your Spirit that renews us, that fills us, and reminds us that Your love surpasses knowledge, but does not surpass our experience. Please fill us up, that You not only dwell in my heart, but rule it.

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