For a period of time, I was in a spiritual desert. I was, I am embarrassed to say, not on ‘speaking terms’ with God. Yes, you read that right. I am a life-long Christian, a church worker, a wife of a pastor, and I was, in my personal life, giving God the silent treatment.
I won’t tell you how long this went on for, but let’s just say a long time. I knew it would end. Eventually. I didn’t even really hate being in the desert, I just accepted it as a matter of course. While I was walking around in the dryness, I didn’t mind praying publicly for others, or even asking others for prayer, but I wasn’t interested in talking to God personally for myself. It was like we had a business relationship, but not a friendship. I would work for Him, but I wasn’t really going to give Him the satisfaction of talking to Him like a daughter.
Have I mentioned before that I have a stubborn streak?
I am not really sure what started this silent treatment, but it began at the Seminary. (I have said many times that if you want to see your faith tested, or if you don’t believe in spiritual warfare, go to the seminary.) It was, for me, a time of survival. My husband was studying like mad, trying to learn ancient languages in his 40s. Our kids were going through many changes as pre-adolescents and adolescents. I was working full-time for the first time as a mom. Money was tight. Time was tighter.
As I look back, it’s like I can envision myself jumping out of bed each morning, strapping on my combat gear, and battling through whatever the day brought me.
Like any good soldier, in order to survive, I had to make sacrifices. Relationships were sacrificed. I didn’t take time to build friendships. I shortchanged my children, leaving mere scraps for my husband. And God? He wasn’t going anywhere. I was busy. I had surviving to do.
And to be honest, I am not sure which came first — the desert or the surviving. Yes, I am. My choice, conscious or unconscious, to survive, led me into the desert where I wandered, jaw fixed and fists clenched, for way too long. My eyes were darting around, daring circumstances to ‘come at me’.
It would have been a lot easier on me and everyone in my family to realize that I was actually not in a desert, but in the palm of HIs hand. You know, then I could have rested, even in the busy-ness. I could have trusted instead of trampling. I could have surrendered the fight because He had assured the victory.
But that’s not how it happened. I strapped on my gear and went into the desert. I know I was there because recently I have begun to experience a few oasis moments. I have begun to rest by the water and have my soul restored.
But lest you think that I willingly came out of the desert on my own, I am going to have to admit that I was pulled out of combat because of physical and spiritual fatigue. And sometimes, I think I should actually still be there, you know, surviving.
But, my Commanding Officer has ordered me to rest and be still. And, I know I need it. I’ve been listening to Him a lot more lately. I’m even considering having Him over for coffee.
I’ll let you know how it goes.
…he makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside still waters
he restores my soul…
Psalm 23: 2