Boxes lined the hallway as I made my way outside. Barry was loading the remaining items into the U-Haul. We turned around to soak in the view of our adorable house. We had recently placed a huge amount of time and effort into fixing up the place. It oozed with Bishop handiwork. Barry and I spent our weekends painting, refinishing and building. That house had been given so much TLC…it was a little sad to see it vacant. But, the thought of the promise land that awaited brought peace to our minds and propelled us forward. We could hardly contain the excitement. In our hearts our move represented so much more than an adventure…it meant that our time in the desert was coming to an end.
As Barry and I drove away from our home base of 5 years, we reflected on our time with mixed emotions. In that season we experienced the miraculous. God provided above and beyond what we could have ever asked or imagined. During that time we were financially blessed and received incredible educational tools. We ministered alongside some of the best pastors in the country and enjoyed years of memories built with friends. But, regardless of the high points…that was our desert season. Our dreams were slowly dying within us and our marriage faced intense opposition. We struggled to find time for ministry and time for each other. I suffered a physical miscarriage and even more than that…I began losing my hope and faith in the call of God. The desert took its toll on us, but it did not defeat us.
Matthew chapters 3-4 weaves the incredible story of our Saviors time in the desert. Jesus was proclaimed, baptized, celebrated, tempted, and triumphant…all in the wastelands. In the same way, the desert can hold many things for us in our walk with God. It can present moments of despair and temptation. It can leave us feeling hopeless and without direction. But it can also provide Divine Encounters and Miraculous Provision. Offering moments in which the presence of God surrounds us as He declares His delight over our life. It can be the stage setting for some of our greatest victories and most precious memories with the Lord.
Looking back I can see the hand of God covering us and carefully guarding His purpose for our life as we walked the wastelands. I think we were led into the desert for a reason. In the solitude of that season, we experienced tremendous victories. We learned some valuable lessons and witnessed amazing miracles. And each step of the way our Heavenly Father provided us with an Oasis of His love and reassurance to get us through.
Now that we are on the other side, I can see the value of that time. Although, I would never want to traverse that ground again, I can rejoice in knowing that God has redeemed what once seemed lost and dying. The God of the desert and the wastelands is also the God of the Promise Land. And for that…I am forever thankful!