Rivers in the Desert

Eyes still tightly closed, my mind reaches through the groggy haze, grasping unsuccessfully at consciousness. Not even a formed thought comes to mind, only the guttural realization that I have a practical exam today. I don’t even have to think it or shape the thought together in my mind—my body just knows, and it shouts it loud, wringing knots into my stomach as perhaps a cruel way of attempting to rouse my brain. And the wave of nervous fear drowns me again, so visceral and relentless. Before I am even able to form a coherent thought, I am overwhelmed by a strong voice, clear and calm. It says:

“I have brought you this far, and I will deliver you through this.”

 I startle and sit straight up. I sure didn’t think that thought. I’m not even alert enough for thoughts. 

All of the doubts and fears I had surrounding this exam immediately vanished in a way that can only be supernatural. Even the swarm of butterflies in my belly flew instantly away.

Yes, this definitely hadn’t come from my own groggy mind. It was the Spirit of the Lord speaking courage into my troubled heart. 

And then I remember a snippet of Scripture that had kept reappearing in very random places over the past few days:

Behold, I am doing a new thing;
    now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?
I will make a way in the wilderness
    and rivers in the desert.
The wild beasts will honor me,
    the jackals and the ostriches,
for I give water in the wilderness,
    rivers in the desert,
to give drink to my chosen people,
the people whom I formed for myself
that they might declare my praise.

I hadn’t given this passage all that much thought, but now it is a clear sign to me of God’s provision.

The weight of God so dramatically showing up here is especially heavy because for such a long time I have been battling doubts from the enemy that going to school for physical therapy is ridiculous of me. Why would you think that you can be a physical therapist? You don’t have what it takes for this. You’re not even good with people.

And the assailment of lies goes on.

Reflecting on this day and this event, I can see that this voice of Truth speaking directly to me is a sign that I am right where I need to be: in the center of God’s will.

 And what is his will? It looks a little bit like this:

 To build his kingdom here on earth. To rescue broken humanity and bring us back to his good and perfect self, because he loves us and the best thing for us is closeness with him. His will is that people believe in his son Jesus, and that this belief would drive us into action to join him on this mission of redeeming a broken world, pointing all of creation back to its Creator.

And the truth washes over me, this realization that I am being protected by a divine defender, because I am a carrier out-er of God’s will. This doesn’t mean that I won’t have troubles or hardships, but that He is creating rivers in the desert, using my weakness to bring him glory and honor in a world that needs to know of His love. What a privilege it is that He invites me to participate in this plan, to co-create and co-redeem, even as I myself am being continually renewed and rescued. 

 Again I think of the Israelites in the wilderness, how God had gone to great lengths to part seas and fight battles and provide nourishment in the desert. How even in spite of life-giving water flowing from rocks and bread from the sky, they still feared that he would leave them to die wandering and wasting away, abandoned and hopeless. 

But we have a God who finishes the good work that he begins in us. What a joy it is to be part of that work, and to be the clay he lovingly forms into the masterpieces that proclaim his glory and beauty and goodness. 

And like the Israelites in the desert—through whom he would eventually bring Light to the world—I know that he will not bring me this far simply to watch me fall.

And realizing all of this, the lies I once heard take on a new voice, and it sounds a lot like truth. 

You do have what it takes to do this because I am making a way in the wilderness for you. You do have what it takes because you would not have made it this far if you didn’t, and I am working through you, body, soul, and mind. You are good with people when you love them and care for them like I do. When you have their best interest in mind. When you reflect me and steer them towards me. 

Yes child, I want you to play a role in this restoration in a way that only you have been gifted to do so. And in all things, I am with you, working for your good and My glory.

 

But now thus says the Lord,
he who created you, O Jacob,
    he who formed you, O Israel:
“Fear not, for I have redeemed you;
    I have called you by name, you are mine.
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
    and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you;
when you walk through fire you shall not be burned,
    and the flame shall not consume you.

Thus says the Lord,
    who makes a way in the sea,
    a path in the mighty waters,
who brings forth chariot and horse,
    army and warrior;
they lie down, they cannot rise,
    they are extinguished, quenched like a wick:
“Remember not the former things,
    nor consider the things of old.
Behold, I am doing a new thing;
    now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?
I will make a way in the wilderness
    and rivers in the desert.
The wild beasts will honor me,
    the jackals and the ostriches,
for I give water in the wilderness,
    rivers in the desert,
to give drink to my chosen people,
 the people whom I formed for myself
that they might declare my praise.

Isaiah 41: 1-2; 16-21

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For your glory and our good,

God, be our courage.

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