It’s been a long, hot summer. As I have thought about it, the summer is almost always a desert time for me.
First of all, I’m out of my normal routine. For a control freak like me, routine equals life, ease, predictability. But in the summer with no school and a different activity every week, routines often go out the window. Besides who wants to always to chores when you could be swimming at the pool? I am constantly struggling to let go of control and be flexible and fun in the summer. It’s good for me, but takes me out of my comfort zone.
Secondly, I don’t go to Bible study. For me this is also a source of life. It helps discipline me to make time for the Word and to be in community with other women. I also have a chance to use my gifts which gives me a lot of life as well. I also don’t get the quiet, alone time I need. It seems that someone needs something from me every minute of the day. So while I need time with other people, I also need some time alone. Last night I found myself adding errands so I could have a few more minutes in the car alone.
Finally, I’ve discovered that my kids aren’t good at being my friend. They aren’t good listeners, and they don’t really give me any verbal affirmation. There are no deep conversations. Just “How many times have I told you not to do that? Don’t put markers in your ears! Get off the back of the couch! Will you please do your chores? Can you stop drumming? Stop screaming!” They are all in their own little worlds, as children ought to be. However at the end of the day when my husband comes home, I realize he is the only adult I have talked to all day, and he’s worn out. Basically I get lonely.
How do the animals and plants in the desert survive? By finding the water, the oasis. As I struggle through the summer, where is my oasis? I can’t go to all my old favorites, like routines and control, Bible study and friends. They have all dried up. So where will I go to be refreshed?
Sometimes I am tempted to try to dig my own wells. However, I only get more frustrated when I grasp for control and make every follow my routines. Or when I expect my children to be my friends, we both will end up in a bad place. Or when I put all my needs for friendship on my husband and complain when he doesn’t fill me up.
Jeremiah 2 tells us what happens when we try to dig our own wells. The two evils the people committed in the eyes of the Lord were forsaking Him, the fountain of living waters, and making their own cisterns, broken cisterns that can hold no water. So as much as I want to make my own wells work, they simply won’t without the “fountain of living water.”
Jesus also talks about this in John 6:35 when he says, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.” He also tells the Samaritan woman in John 4:13-14, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” And we like the woman say, “Sir, give me this water.”
Psalm 37 reminds me of what God really wants from us when we are in the desert. He wants to be our oasis. I think sometimes he leads me into the desert so that I have to forsake all the other wells and props I have used to give me life. He wants to be the source of life for me.
But that all sounds nice and good, but what’s a girl to actually do with that? Sometimes even when I have a quiet time, I don’t get relief. Some days having quiet time is nowhere to be found on the schedule. So what’s a girl to do? (Do you hear my Martha-desire for a to-do list coming out?)
For all my fellow “Marthas,” I found a list. Some of the things Psalm 37 tells us to do are fret not, trust In the Lord, do good, dwell in the land, befriend faithfulness, delight yourself in the Lord, commit your way to the Lord, trust in him, be still before the Lord; wait patiently for him, fret not, refrain from anger and forsake wrath; fret not, it tends only to evil; turn away from evil and do good, wait for the Lord and keep his way.
About half way through the summer, I felt like God was inviting me to go on a walk with him every morning. But whenever I had this thought I came up with a million excuses. Mainly Andrew won’t like it if I’m not there for our extra cuddle time during the Today Show. Plus you never know when the baby will wake up, and then Andrew will have to get out of bed to help her. Besides I’m always so tired at the end of the day, why would waking up earlier give me energy? Getting up early would take the precious energy I need to make it through my day.
But I knew that if I would get my butt out of bed, I could meet God and pray and memorize scripture. Plus I really need to kick it up a notch if I’m going to lose these last nagging five pounds. After weeks of putting it off, I finally got my butt out of bed. I just told Andrew that I need to walk in the morning. I found my oasis.
“The steps of a man are established by the Lord, when he delights in his way; though he fall, he shall not be cast headlong, for the Lord upholds his hand.” (37:23-24) Have you considered that your steps are established by the Lord? He knows you are in a desert and perhaps he has lead you there. Isn’t it good to know that even when you stumble, the Lord holds your hand and keeps you from going all the way down?
What I love about the desert is that even when it seems that there is no life and that nothing good can come from it, God makes a flower or produces fruit in unlikely places. It is a reminder to hope in the promises of God. Some of God’s promises in Psalm 37 are
- He will give you the desires of your heart (v.4)
- Trust him and he will act (v. 5)
- The meek shall inherit the earth and delight themselves in abundant peace (v. 11)
- The Lord upholds the righteous (v.17)
- The Lord knows the days of the blameless, and their heritage will remain forever (v.18)
- The blameless will not be put to shame in evil times; in the days of famine they have abundance (v. 19)
- The wicked will perish (v. 20)
- He will not forsake his saints (v. 28)
- The righteous shall inherit the land and dwell upon it forever (v. 29)
- The Lord will not abandon the righteous to the power of the wicked or let him be condemned when he is brought to trial (v. 33)
- He will exalt you to inherit the land (v.34)
“The salvation of the righteous is from the Lord; he is their stronghold in the time of trouble. The Lord helps them and delivers them; he delivers them from the wicked and saves them, because they take refuge in him.” (37:39-40)
I know that His desire is to produce fruit in you, not to harm you or let you die in the desert. “You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you, declares the Lord.” (Jeremiah 29:13-14)
I know that when I started walking in the mornings, I found him. He has met me there and continues to wake me up in the morning to be with him. May I have the courage and strength to keep accepting his invitation. I pray that you too will find the Oasis in the desert.