UNLESS YOU HAVE SPENT TIME IN A DESERT, YOU CANNOT TELL THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE MIRAGE AND THE OASIS – PART 1

Today has been a beautifully bright and sunny spring day here in the South East of England, and I enjoy nothing more than to take our six and a half month old labrador puppy for a walk round our beautiful surroundings, where I can easily connect with both God and nature, where I can grasp the awesome realisation of how small I really am and how big God really is.  But there are two sides to every coin, and stepping out of my house, my work, my chores, my duties and responsibilities albeit for a short window of time, can also expose me to jumping off the fast train that life can be when I am unprepared and unequipped for what such a risky jump may bring my way.

I took that jump this morning.  I left my house for one of my daily walks with our puppy, totally oblivious to the drama that would unfold by simply stepping out of my front door.  Sometimes we can be so caught up in our own success, in our comfortable living, in our own cocoons, that it takes something as simple as a walk round the block to unearth in one’s heart and spirit a myriad of emotions powerful enough to destroy what one perceived as  stable, secure, and balanced living.

When my dog and I go for walks, these are the times when the Spirit of God reaches in and does its work on my soul.  This happens during other times throughout my day, but it is during these walks that no outer influences, distractions or background noise and noise within can block what God is saying to me.  Many people have asked me recently why did you get a dog after the bad experience you had with the previous one 10 years ago, why now, why the very sudden change of heart?  Initially, I put it down to my children’s begging for a dog gradually breaking down my barriers of good reasons for not having one, but a few months down the line, I am beginning to see that Jake, our labrador, is literally a God’s send.  Why do I say that?  Some of you know that I stopped going to church almost a year ago now.  It is easy to believe, to have faith when you are surrounded by like-minded individuals whose own faith often times is fed in turn by your own.  Withdraw that comfort blanket, that safety net, and you will experience a spiritual desert, a spiritual wilderness like you have not known before.  No gimmicks, no falsehood, no hype, no nothing, simply you, the Word, and the Spirit of God.  What is left as one drags themselves down this lonely and dreary path?  Not much!  simply raw faith, a faith that discards every single thing for which there is no basis in the Bible;  a pure, undiluted faith which does without the baggage brought about by the religious spirit that has crippled the Body of Christ for thousands of years, which has brought disunity, hypocrisy and pride to the very Bride Christ died for on the cross.  This faith no longer has time for man-made creations such as denominations, corporately run churches, hierarchical systems, titles, privileges, over-paid and over-rated undershepherds and hirelings, or for the overly spiritual mumbo-jumbo dialect which many in some churches use as their green card into a private club of the select few who are convinced they are in the know and who have utter control over the whole flock.

Living in this desert, this wilderness can get to you pretty much everyday, because raw faith requires raw emotions, heart-break and a lot of soul-searching.  There is no one to carry you when you have no spiritual food or drink, there are no easy ways out or another Christian round the corner to pick up that baton you have been called to take to the finish line.  It is just you and the scorching heat, the sand, and the dead landscape.  This kind of environment forces one to absolutely implore, beg and rely solely on the only ONE who has the power to supply you with such food and drink. Nothing else will satisfy that hunger and that thirst.  What worked before whilst you lived sheltered within the confines of your church and its people no longer has any power over you and through you, and so there is nowhere else to go but down on your knees often in anger, pain and frustration.

Had we not bought our dog, my only source of spiritual oasis right now would not even be there. The need to take him out for walks forces me out of my self-pity, discouragement and numbness and into the bosom of a Father who is forever waiting for his child to look up, to be open to His council, love and grace.

TO BE CONTINUED IN PART 2

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5 thoughts on “UNLESS YOU HAVE SPENT TIME IN A DESERT, YOU CANNOT TELL THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE MIRAGE AND THE OASIS – PART 1

  1. I certainly understand where you’re coming from. For me, the biggest thing was no longer being around other Christians in a scheduled manner, such as on Sundays and Wednesday nights. Now, fellowshipping with other believers (beside my wife) happens as the Spirit determines, and not out of weekly routines. Sometimes, it’s a long time in between.

    So now, fellowshipping with others is much more precious than it ever was before, much more precious.

  2. I agree Larry that when those opportunities come my way they are indeed much more precious and also much more authentic and meaningful than they have ever been. This spiritual desert I speak of however, really is a complete desert and I find myself in total isolation just like so many of the prophets we read about on the bible were for a relatively long period of time. I often find comfort in the knowledge that this is often a season for those who are being prepared for something special in kingdom living, but at the same time I struggle with the contradiction that it is to find myself in this desert when such an integral part of Christianity is community and to carry each other burdens, to encourage, and edify each other.

    I guess the longer the time in the desert the bigger the purpose to be fulfilled afterwards. I have my doubts sometimes if I am honest and wonder whether The Potter has ditched this clay on the shelf for good, but then He would not be faithful to his promises and the one thing I have absolute faith in is his Faithfulness.

    Praise be to God for He will never leave us nor forsake us.

    • I ve read your blogs and the comments and I can totally relate to the season that you are describing… a hot dry desert set apart, nearly invisible from others, and totally stripped from all former life as I knew it.
      This happened to me 5 1/2 years ago with the murder of our adult daughter…she will be gone six years in October, only 4 days from my birthday in that month. For the first year, while in very deep grief, some of the friends stayed near by, while in the second year of very deep grief, everyone disappeared. Every one that I knew, even the ministry that I was involved with for 3 years in church… no one seemed to notice anymore. Then came other friends and acquaintances, one by one dropped off. When ever I went out places, it seemed that I was (and still am) nearly invisible to all. This was quite hard to understand at the beginning. Add to this one by one different types of long term illnesses and consistent body pain. Day by day would drone on with such mundane feelings of fleeting hopelessness. In 2008, I felt God calling me to go back to school, which I have done so… while in great pain. Then came very strong fatigue from 2010 on that won’t give much relief. Even going to the doctors to find out what was wrong backfired. They gave no real help or diagnosis nor has any natural supplement completely work. I’ve struggled in and out of night after night of sleeplessness as well. Somewhere in this desert journey, God began leading me to write out each unique experience in going to school while in pain and fatigue and how He has intervened. Every semester, I manage A’s and B’s but only through His continued strength and help… There are so many lessons that I have learned, greater than any school could offer. The greatest of all is total dependence on Him alone, especially when physically I could not. I do believe that He sets those of us aside and apart for how ever length of time that is needed, to re-draw the canvas of our lives and drench it in His perspective and dependence. When we learn to surrender our total selves, He now has the materials to re-draw our lives, and we need never to fear or doubt that He will not finish what He started in us. Lastly, even though I am not out of this season yet, I have never felt God’s presence more closer and intimately stronger than it’s been through this…. I cherish that! My time is coming to be released, and when I do, I know I will be totally remade! Take courage and never give up or give in to depression, discouragement, disillusionment or despair!!! Your time is coming too! 🙂 BlueJean

  3. Pingback: The Road to Amityville « Grace County

  4. Dear Blue Jean,

    Thank you so much for your comment. I am sorry to hear that your daughter was murdered 6 years ago. What a terrible thing to have to come to terms with and go through. Your courage and strength are an inspiration and I feel honoured that you stopped by to encourage me.

    May the Lord bless you and keep you as you make Him your cornerstone and the foundation of everything you are and do.

    It is a pleasure to make your acquaintance.

    Mercedes

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