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."
© copyrighted 2008 by Julie L. Todd