Saturday, October 4, 2008

The Allure of the Desert

    As I was listening to a tape one summer day in 2002, the words out of the speaker’s mouth unleashed a deluge of tears.  “Therefore, I will allure you to the desert to speak tenderly to you.”

    I was hurting from the barrenness of my life.  Every close friendships had been shut down for various reasons.   I couldn’t understand it all.  Why had God removed all my friends?  Why was I so alone?  Was I being punished?  Why was I in this wilderness?

     As I listened to the speaker I realized, God had allured me to the desert, not out of punishment, but because of love.  He wanted me all to Himself, all crutches removed, learning to walk in His love with Him alone.  At first it scared me, but now, six years later,  I am no longer afraid.  I’ve seen too much of His heart in this place to be afraid.  The truth is, the desert has become a place of refuge.

     I never thought those words would come out of my mouth.  I never thought I would learn to rest in the barrenness.  Being a people person made for relationship, I wrestled against the aloneness.  It wasn’t where I was comfortable.  I had been busy for a reason.  I didn’t like being alone.   In all honestly I didn’t like being with “me”.

     But it was in the isolation that I began to see what was really in my heart; what I truly believed about God, and what I believed about myself.  As things began to surface, I was stunned. 

      It was all laid bare in the desert.  All the “feel good” was removed, peeling the layers back of my belief system.  Like a virus my beliefs were eating away my identity.

      I had been quite the self-reliant person.  I thought that was what I needed to be.  Hidden away underneath this layer was self-protection.  I didn’t trust.  I didn’t trust that I could be loved for who I was.  I didn’t trust God’s Word to be true.  He loved the world, but how could He love me?  After all I was so flawed.

     I had learned to be self-reliant to protect myself from the possibility of being hurt and let down.  What if who I really was wasn’t enough? 

     Alicia Britt Chole says in her book, “Anonymous” “From Father God’s perspective, utter dependence, not self-reliance is the true friend of our souls.”  It was in the wilderness that God began to strip me bare of the self-reliance, wooing my heart to depend on Him and Him alone.

     I couldn’t reason my way out.  I couldn’t protect my way out.  I couldn’t control my way out.  He had to be my rescue.  He had to be my salvation.  As long as I was capable, He could not be.  As long as I lived under this veil of masked identity, I couldn’t be who He made me to be.  

     In the desert  He began to peel away the mask of lies that made up who I believed I was, which dictated what I believed He thought about me too.  You know what we believe He thinks about us often has it’s foundation in what we believe about ourselves.  It’s not He who has the faulty beliefs it’s us.

     I began to see what had imprisoned me.   I found the truth that has set me free.  The desert has been the most invigorating, challenging, restorative place.   As the masks have been peeled away I see myself through His eyes. He has given me beauty for ashes.  His tender words have been placed inside me.  This place that once felt so barren has now become my sanctuary.  He allured me to the desert to captivate me in His embrace and now I see.  I am my Beloved’s and He is mine.

"Therefore I am now going to allure her;  I will lead her into the desert and speak tenderly to her.

There I will give her back her vineyards, and will make the Valley of Achor(Sorrow)a door of hope. 

There she will sing as in the days of her youth, as in the day she came up out of Egypt. "In that day," declares the LORD, "you will call me 'my husband'; you will no longer call me 'my master."

Hosea 2:14-16


© copyrighted 2008 by Julie L. Todd


Victoria (Vii) said... Reply to comment

Beautiful!!! I feel that I am right there- walking in the desert with my Father waiting for Him to show me where to put my feet next! Thank you for sharing your wisdom with me!

Joyful said... Reply to comment

Amazing post Julie. Those verses from Hosea are beautiful. Deserts are places free from distraction where God can clearly speak to us.

I'm also in the middle of reading, "Anonymous" - thought-provoking book. Much to treasure and ponder.


Becoming Me said... Reply to comment

As always Julie, your words pierce my heart...this was sparkling beautiful.

Tiffany Stuart said... Reply to comment


Told you I'd read this later, but I couldn't wait. I had to come read it before I leave for Grandma's.

This is so my experience with the deserts in my life. God allows them because of LOVE and they are the most revealing and refreshing of times. I wouldn't trade them for anything. For there in my lonely deserts, He captured my heart and showed me who I am to Him.

His beloved.

It took me a while to believe this truth. I, like you, had my beliefs and self protection. I loved controlling my life because I learned if I didn't, no one else would. That was until I met Jesus up, close and personal through the allure of the desert.

I still have days where I go into a wrestling match with the Lord, but I always surrender and then rest in His strength. He is love and His ways and even His deserts for us are good! He can be trusted. His words are true: He will speak tenderly to us.. That's a promise.

Thank you for another glimpse into what Papa God has done in your heart. It's so beautiful.

The verse is perfect for this post. It speaks life to me even today when I am not in a desert. It brings me back to those desert moments and what God did through them. My first desert time birthed my desire to write.

I am beyond thankful we are friends.

Hugs and much love,

Cindy said... Reply to comment

I too have been walking in the wilderness in recent years. It is a good place to be but not forever. He is preparing that promised land in our hearts.

Beautifully written post Julie.
Blessings, Cindy

Gretchen said... Reply to comment

Oh how that self-reliance speaks to me. It is a hard lesson to unlearn: all that independent living we were taught as young daughters in a culture which promotes I and Me over Him. When is your devotional coming out, and can I have a signed copy? xxxooogretchen

Amy said... Reply to comment


You have an amazing ability to put the experiences of life into words. I loved reading the beautiful way the Lord allured you into the desert with Him. The Lord is amazing, isn't he?

Thank you so much for sharing your heart!

Love you,

Shanda said... Reply to comment

I enjoy reading the happy ending. I will keep these verses close to my heart as I continue in my waiting.

Jackie @ Our Moments Our Memories said... Reply to comment


This was absolutely beautiful. As someone who is walking in the desert right now in a few different areas of my life, this was so encouraging to read. I'm pretty sure He is calling me through this so that I become more like Him, and the longer I drag my feet and resist, the longer it's going to take. :)

Thank you so much for dropping by my blog...I'm glad you enjoyed my little video! Hopefully next time you will be able to join in...sounds like Linda wants to make it at least a semi-annual event.

Have a wonderful week!

Amy said... Reply to comment

Most everyone that has commented has used the word "Beautiful" to describe this post. I cannot think of a better word to use. God truly has his hand on you, Julie. I have come by so many times and been uplifted and encouraged. The words in your post are so true. When we come to the end of ourselves in the desert, God can take our hearts and fill them up with Him. So many times I get in my own way. The times of testing are the times I find more of Him and what He can do through me when I get my flesh out of His way. Blessings to you today.

Pat said... Reply to comment

WOW!! Beautiful and inspirational post! God is so good and is always at work in us drawing us deeper and higher into His good plan.

Sharon said... Reply to comment

What a great post, and one I will ponder for the rest of the day!
Thoses verses were very touching!
Thank You

Laura said... Reply to comment

Hi, Julie!
I have started this precious book and am so deeply touched by Ms. Chole's words. I want to drink this one in...will go slowly through it.
I love this post, my friend. I have been there. Richard Foster calls this the "Dark night of the soul." He says that when everything falls away like this, it is God drawing us near to HIm, getting rid of the distractions so that we can hear HIm better.
Isn't that a beautiful thought?
I am trying to get caught up with everything now that we are home from our trip. My head is filled with so many thoughts and images that God whispered over me. I'm still processing it all!
Thinking of you...

Kimberly said... Reply to comment

I love that passage from Hosea. For Him to want me to call Him "husband"...what intimacy, what love that speaks. That passage spoke so tenderly to my heart the first time I ever read it. Especially since that is not how I saw Him wanting to love me.

But you spoke to that so clearly here. "You know what we believe He thinks about us often has it’s foundation in what we believe about ourselves. It’s not He who has the faulty beliefs it’s us."

I love how you share His love through how He has shared His love with you! Thank you, Julie. He not only used your desert time to heal you, but is also, I'm sure, using it to begin healing in others as well. God is so good! Thank you for being an instrument of healing and love in His hands!

Tracy said... Reply to comment
This comment has been removed by the author.
Tracy said... Reply to comment

What an absolutely beautiful post. I'm ashamed to admit often when I find myself in the desert, I want to quickly learn what it is God has for me, then get back to where I'm comfortable (where things are predictable, where it's not lonely...) Your post certainly reveals another way of looking at it though. I'm praying now that I may stop trying to avoid the desert and instead embrace it, and learn what it is He has for me there. Once again, your heart has spoken profoundly. Thank you.

Irritable Mother said... Reply to comment

Simply beautiful, Julie.
It is so good when we come to that place of understanding that we cannot do anything without Him. When we come to the end of ourselves, and find that He will carry us - oh, that is the best place to be!

Denise said... Reply to comment

Such a lovely post, thank you.