I have always been a uber-fan of old movies. By “old movies” I don’t mean movies from the 80’s, as my kids would say. I mean movies from the early 20th century 20’s-50’s. I turn into kind of a nerdy(er) version of myself and even quote lines, and sing along with the songs in the musicals. Some of my favorites were the road pictures that Bob Hope and Bing Crosby would do. Their antics combined with Bing’s voice always pull me in. (I warned you… I am a nerd) I remember one time watching Bob Hope, delirious from the desert heat, crawl over to a lovely, cool, pool of water, surrounded by beautiful women holding food and waving him over to drink the water. He crawled over and began lapping up the water only to have it seconds later disappear and reveal that he was in fact lapping up handfuls of hot desert sand.
Sometimes in life we go through deserts, or dry seasons. We feel as if we are wandering around in a desolate, hot sand infested place with not even a small plant to provide a moment of shade from the punishing heat. I remember a time right around 2002, after my son died, I was in such place. I was crying out to God and it felt like He did not hear me. I wanted desperately to hear His voice and for Him to speak in any way, but all I could hear or see was “dry desert”. I would set my Bible out to read in the morning and, honestly I got to the place where I stopped opening it. I began to sit on the couch and aimlessly flip through television channels; for hours sometimes, in search of some sort of “shade from a small plant”. It was a futile search. Nothing was providing the shelter from this desolate place I seemed to be in. I would every now and then pick up my Bible, but it seemed that more and more I would have the remote in my hands, or my keys to the car, so I could go to the store and buy something. Shopping became my next search for shade. I would aimlessly walk through stores looking for something to buy. Shoes became the new “thing”. I would see a pair of shoes, and even if I did not need them, they were cute, I would justify it in my mind that they were “on clearance” and buy them. It became so ridiculous at one point that I would even purchase them if they were not in my size. There was a momentary pause, if you will, in the “dry season”. I said momentary though, because by the time I would get to the car, that momentary pause was over and I would feel the dry heat again.
Then there was the mirage. It had been months of floundering in this desert and I saw it in the distance. Everything that I wanted (or thought I wanted) in the distance. Waving me over. It seemed too good to be true. But I was in such bad shape, I ran to it, fell down and began drinking as much of it as I could, only to realize that I was lapping up death and destruction. By the time I was “spitting out” all that I had “drank” I had enough and I found myself crying out to God once more. I knew I needed to do something about all the junk I was trying to be my relief. I started with my Bible. I opened it again. Seems like such a simple thing, but it is a powerful thing. It wasn’t easy at first, I will be honest. But after a couple of days, it was less of something I thought i had to do, and more of a thing I longed to do. I began writing. It poured out of me onto pages as if the dam had broken and all the water in my soul was flooding it. Something beautiful began to happen, I began to worship God through the dust and heat of my dry season. I began to sing songs to Him. I began to sit and write songs to Him. It became true shelter and shade from the heat. As i sat in its shade more and more, I began to feel less and less empty. Then, it happened. Like the first good rainstorm after the dry season, God fell on me. He poured out and into me. It was just me and God, Him pouring out and me, no umbrella needed, standing out in it, arms raised, mouth open, and all others left where they belonged.
We all have dry seasons. Jesus himself went into the desert for 40 days to fast and pray. I would like to say I was fasting and praying like He was, but I was more like the Israelites coming out of Egypt.. wandering and complaining. I often wonder what would have happened if I had not put my Bible down, or if I had not picked up a remote, or a credit card. I don’t wonder so I can lament and beat myself up, I think about it to encourage myself to not make the same mistake again. I am human, so who knows.. but I do remind myself of this time quite a lot. The funny thing is, I was able to put on such a good face for months, that people wouldn’t even have known the place I was in. They knew I was grieving my son, but I did not let them know I was grieving the presence of God as well. Why? Quite honestly I felt the weight of being seen as some sort of “superhero of faith” by everyone around me that I felt I would be crushing some of them if I spoke honestly about some of what I was going through. It was a door I locked and white knuckle gripped the key. I walked on, in my desert and quite literally holding my own freedom captive by expectation I put into place. There had to be a breaking of me and a rebuilding of Him in me.
Through the blessing of my daughter Skye, (who I found out I was pregnant with almost 4 months after Caedmon had died) God began to rebuild me. It was not pleasant. It hurt at times.. a lot. There was dying to self, which in the wake of my son dying physically at times seemed too much to take, but our God is faithful and He never leaves us! The mirages I had tried to drink from began to fade and my focus became on the one who was filling me with living water. Isn’t it odd.. dying to self equals us being born and living in Him. It takes us from a fragile, temporary place and makes us complete in Him.
I find myself these days being intentionally about drinking from the well of Jesus. I make time to read my Bible. I make time to pray. I talk to God all the time. It is an ongoing conversation. In this intentionality I have become more alive than ever before. There are still deserts that are out there, and if I walk through them again I am equipped. I also hold fast to the truth that God never leaves my side.
Thank you God ❤