A Desert Nobody Plans to Visit
Loss is a scary desert. No outfitter in the world could equip anybody to live in the campgrounds loss creates. Whether it is the loss of mobility, or mental stamina; loss of a job; the loss of a child or spouse; a loss of faith and hope that God is — loss is scary.
Such a place is treacherous, and it’s no place to camp.
But, a dear friend camps frequently in desert places: places filled with steep valleys, an oasis or two, but also with so many barren plains on her walk with Christ. She didn’t choose any of the places through which she walks. Sometimes she can talk about her journey; other times she keeps her own counsel, conserving her strength for battles that break out in her mind, and soul and body.
Spiritual deserts are as hard to talk about as heaven – nobody knows what they are like until they wake up there. If “awful” had not been used to the point of losing its meaning, that’s how I would describe them.
Nothing Can I Do or Say Shades Her
I can’t transport her to a safer, softer campsite. At most, I can bring her some cool water – now and again; maybe offer a bit of shade – or, fan a weak breeze for a time. But I can’t tell her how to pitch a tent and live where the sands of her daily life burn and shift.
My deserts have not looked like hers. Although the same Person designed our journeys, and goes with us, and we’ve been through some deserts together, our paths are distinct, and not interchangeable.
So, I have no map to show her shortcuts, no lists of sufficient oases. Some that I have found for my desert trek might not be places she needs to rest.
Now, all I can offer is rain; not the refreshment from heaven – but the words of another friend, whose multiple sclerosis led her onto tough campgrounds, and kept her in places she never would have chosen. Maybe her words will cool refresh, strengthen – for a spell?
as I need to breathe
I must believe your purposes are good
however deep the dark
for you are good
help me to wait through trial’s pounding storm
and pour out all my grief to you
instead of seeking comfort in old lies
oh Precious Lord help me seek
your beacon face however dense the fog of fear
Great Lion roar against my foes
when I’m to weak to shout your praise and scatter them
Almighty Conqueror I plead to know
that you are more than all this fearsome horde
Forgiver of the lost keep my hand safe
within your broken one
do you hear, do you see, are you even here
within a pain I dare not face or break?
the quiet voice that lodges in my heart
that shout that sets the prisoner free:
you broke, for me
There shall yet be
largesse lavished from grey skies
sparkling rain-drenched days of promise
the world new-washed and waiting, diamond-sheened
and His servants shall serve Him.
~ Barbara Black 1991
And maybe this from David, when he found himself in places he didn’t want to be will comfort:
. . . You’ve kept track of my every toss and turn
through the sleepless nights,
Each tear entered in your ledger,
each ache written in your book.
If my enemies run away,
turn tail when I yell at them,
Then I’ll know
that God is on my side. . . Psalm 56:8
I love you dear friend.