from being in the desert is that it does come to an end, and there are streams of living water on the other side.
I know that I have made a spiritual breakthrough, but there are now some areas in my life that God is shining His bright light on. As I was praying reading Scripture, and journaling last night I believe that God was showing me how I got to where I was.
I often struggle with how much I say here on this blog knowing that the main purpose for me doing this in the beginning was to keep a recording of family events, memories, and my journey with Jesus. I have purposefully been careful with how much I do share because while this is a public blog, I still have things that are very personal and don't need to be shared in this arena. At the same time, I know firsthand the care, support, encouragement and friendships that are made here in the blogging community. If in the simple and heartfelt words I write someone else is touched and ministered to, then I want God to receive ALL the glory for that.
Two years ago, my husband and I were called into full-time ministry. To this day, the year leading up to that time was one of the most significant, challenging, and close times with the Lord I have ever had on my spiritual journey. I was part of an AMAZING Bible study ("Believing God" by Beth Moore), Steve and I were having prayers answered in huge ways. God was leading us step by step and giving us an incredible amount of guidance and wisdom. We were seeing firsthand His provision and leading in our lives. I really can't even put into words the way we were feeling His presence. It was such an exciting time, and we were without a doubt in the center of God's will.
We settled into a new home, new responsibilities, and began living this new life as a family in ministry. My involvement at the church continued with leading a Mom's group, being part of a Bible study, and my husband and I continued leading our community group that we deeply loved.
Much was learned that first year - personally and as a couple. Looking back, I see how God just showered us with so much grace and made the transition smooth and easy.
The beginning of 2009 was when things began to change for me spiritually. I began to have the feeling that God was moving away. "What have I done Lord?", "Is there sin in my life that I am not recognizing and confessing to you?", " Why don't I know you are near?", " What do I need to do?" and "Where are You?" were questions I asked and cried over. I was doing a really good job of not only beating myself up, but I was allowing the enemy to fill my mind and heart with lies. There were times that I recognized this and would get my mind grasped on truth, but there were always times I didn't.
While I had times of closeness with the Lord, they were sporadic and few. I was encouraged by my husband to keep seeking God and that often in times like this, it's because God is desiring us to go deeper. I took his words to heart, and I pursued and pursued and pursued.
In my attempts to be close to God knowing and feeling His presence once again, I wasn't getting anywhere. God remained silent and ever so distant. The days turned into months, and I was now spiritually exhausted, disappointed, and angry. Why wasn't I hearing from Him, seeing Him throughout my day, or knowing His love and peace anymore. He was so far, far away, and it became more and more difficult for me to continue to trust and believe the One who promised that He would never leave or abandon me.
There was such a deep emptiness in my soul. All I wanted was to understand why this was happening because I could no longer wholeheartedly believe He was still there - even in the quiet.
I felt like there was no one who really understood how I felt or what I was going through. While their words of understanding were intended to give me hope and encouragement, I still felt like they didn't understand. In all honesty, when someone described being in the desert to me up until now, my response has been the same. "This will only last a season." And, "There is a reason why God has brought you here."
I also have to admit that I probably didn't reach out to the ones that care about me the most during this time. While I did share with my husband and a couple close friends what was going on, I wasn't letting them know the extent of how I was feeling - how lonely it was in this dark place. It was easy for me to play the part of the happy pastor's wife, a content and joyful woman of God, and everything else I thought I had to live up to. Along the way, I began guarding my emotions with God and everyone around me.
I know that I have so much farther to go. Don't we all? That is why our walk of faith is a process and a journey. Last night as I sat in my bed before going to sleep, I was reading Scripture and allowing God to comfort me in the tears. I know He was there.
There are things that I am still struggling with. There are still doubts that I have and in a way, I am learning to trust God again. Yesterday afternoon I began feeling like He had left me again, and I was afraid. I sat with my Bible and turned page after page wanting a verse to hold onto. I really needed something to give me comfort and reassurance, but it wasn't happening. These last few days I have intentionally kept the TV off, worship and praise music on, and not worrying about what I have to get done just so that I am in a place of keeping my thoughts and attentions on God. It has been such a long, long time since I have prayed, read Scripture, and just been in a place of peace.
As I was turning the pages of my Bible again, one of my favorite books to read is the book of Psalms. I came across Psalm 84. There are have been times before when this particular psalm has been significant and meaningful to me. I have verses underlined and can remember why they meant so much to me. This time, the words were fresh and new. I really felt the Lord impress it upon me to be committed to read and mediate on these verses.
While sitting in bed, I was writing in my journal, praying, and doing a lot of crying. They were tears of knowing He had brought me to the other side but still needing desperately to know that He loves me and that He will never leave me.
I began looking for Scripture that I could recite over and over again as I went to sleep. What I found was Psalm 103:8...
The LORD is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love.
And Psalm 116:5-7...
The LORD is gracious and righteous; our God is full of compassion. The LORD protects the simplehearted; when I was in great need, He saved me.
Be at rest once more, O my soul, for the LORD has been good to you.
Yes, He has.