Good Things Come From Barren Places

   desertlandscape                                                                                                                             Photo: Lyle Detwiler Photography

You know me…There are many words before you get to the update! Keep reading! This is a journey, folks! 

This last weekend, because of changing circumstances, I had a long day trip up to the desert where Jed and Joseph were with the MVCFnext youth group for their Winter Camp. As it turned out, I made the drive up by myself, which allowed me a time of solace that I don’t get very often. Actually, it would be more honest if I said that I don’t TAKE time for solace much. As the landscape changed from city to desert, it was like God took me on a little tour of my life.

The radio went scratchy and civilization thinned near Barstow, CA and my mind wandered back to my childhood. Those were roads I had been on before and forgotten. My dad grew up out there on the edge of the desert. My paternal grandparents, Marge and Ted Michaud, lived in Banning for as long as I remember. We would visit “Grandma and Grandpa Sparky” (I called my grandparents affectionately by the names of their dogs), pulling into the driveway lined with rocks and decorated with cactus, wagon wheels, and other things that held stories I’m sure. As I drove through Banning this time, I laughed a little to myself and remembered what Nathanael said of Nazareth in John 1:46 when referring to Jesus, “Nazareth! Can anything good come from there?!” In the same way, as I let the memories flood my mind, I asked, “Banning! Can anything good come from here?!” You know the answer. YES. Good came from there.

My dad came from there and he has ended up in Maui. Not bad, “Gerdog!” He also found His Maker and so did I. It’s often perplexing to me to look back over our crazy life, through many different seasons and landscapes – I was recently teasing my mom about the time when my parents ran Pentz Store, a bar and restaurant with a gas pump out front where I learned to shoot pool, pump gas, and choose the songs on the juke box with the local hippies. Push the fast forward button to today and I continue to find myself a sojourner through many different places, meeting ALL kinds of different people, but now bringing Good News and Truth to broken people like me. Yes, good things come from barren places.

As I left Banning, the desert seemed to take over quickly. The wind picked up and the vegetation slowly faded into a light brown backdrop of desolation. I couldn’t help but think about the Israelites wandering through the desert and the many places in the Bible where the desert is used as a picture of loss, disobedience, despair, and hopelessness. I have even used it to describe myself in the dark times of my grief. But as I drove through there on Saturday morning, it was like God opened my eyes to see the truth of my life and the way He has carried me. I am NOT like the desert. Even in the darkest times of sorrow, He has been so close to me that I have never felt the barrenness and dryness that characterize the desert “wasteland.” It has surely been HIS grace and HIS faithfulness to me that have made that true.

One of the most profound blessings and sources of strength in this long season of weakness has been God’s Word. He has spoken to me so intimately through it and I have journaled my prayers and the messages He has whispered to me, filling many blank books with conversations and cries to Him. Psalm 1:2-3 comes to mind, “But (her) delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law (she) meditates day and night. (She) is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither.” There is a note in my Bible next to that verse that says, “beginning prayer journal today.” HE has kept me from withering and being completely dry. HE has led me through seasons of ABUNDANCE rather than dryness and I am so thankful.

Now, I am preparing for my next journey. Thursday morning we’ll leave for a VISIT to Kenya where we will pack up and process through another change of seasons. You see, God has led me one baby step at a time through this transition… a one-term Home Assignment turned to a one-year Home Assignment, and that has turned into a new assignment with Africa Inland Mission that uses my gifts and experiences in a way that will fill a critical, strategic role in the organization. I can’t wait until the details are worked out and I can announce all that God has done to guide us gently into a season of serving HERE. Not only that, but He has brought ALL of our hearts to a place of KNOWING that this is, indeed, what God would have us do. He has shown me that HE knows what all of us need even before we can sense it ourselves. He loves each of my kids just as He loves the unreached and He desires for THEM to know and trust Him too. He has provided for a season of stability in order to continue the healing process WITH our extended family AND still participate in reaching the unreached in AFRICA!

Thank you for your continued faithful prayers and support even as we have been on THIS side of the ocean! I will continue to need that support in this new role and will get you all of the details as SOON as I know them too!

I will end with this from Psalm 66:8-12, which was recently placed on my heart for a women’s event where I got to share my testimony:

 

“Praise our God, all peoples,

let the sound of his praise be heard;

he has preserved our lives and kept our feet from slipping.

For you, God, tested us;

You refined us like silver…

We went through fire and water,

But you brought us to a place of abundance.”

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