Beyond the desolate land.

She knows from passed-down stories that a glance over the shoulder could mean death. Not in this case, it isn’t the point. There is no longing to go backward, to feel that darkness again, to be enveloped in pain or sin or destruction. No. There is a longing to see what protection the Maker provided, to move forward from a place that was necessary to the unseen fortress of faith that she goes to live in now. That fortress didn’t exist before the place behind her.

It was just as dark as she remembered. Desolate. Horrifying, for she could see even more now than before. Those cool streams of water gracing her aching feet were refreshing, and thanks to His goodness she continued her search for them through that land, for they provided a path along the edge of a dark, crumbling abyss. The mist, by now had rolled off the edge and disappeared. Her heart leaped at the danger that once surrounded her and she rejoiced at the small gifts of protection and encouragement that were given to keep her moving forward.

How interesting that place becomes, once one is beyond it. It felt like mourning on the surface, but it had been so much more. Her heart beats steadily and joyfully now, even though the blanket of confusion in the midst of that place had felt so heavy, so burdensome. Each step, faith building forward, had trampled down fear, guilt, shame, confusion, doubt into something solid and beautiful and worthy of the difficulty. It had not existed before, this strength. Each step up and out of that desolate land provided new hope, a horizon of beauty that was unseen beyond the tall, cavernous walls of her heart.

That place she looked back to, her fears, her temptations, had been conquered and transformed into a glorious strength of faith. No, He hadn’t left her, even in the dangerous places, He led her and helped her and showed her the way. The promises that hung on her lips now rang truth and confidence into the world around her. She sang the blessings as she approached the golden light on the hills just above her, a place of peace and restoration just waiting to embrace her heart.

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Land of Mourning

Everything was dark. The sun shone only a dim light when it rose. The fear, the uncertainty, that deep, tangled knot seemed to grow ever larger. His voice was like a silent wall, not to be heard, but standing, unmoving. Nothing came from Him, no encouragement, for anything in His word she had read felt like a useless platitude in this day of despair. And any words addressed to him only came back empty, wanting, measured by the shortcomings of her humanity.

Her feet wandered in this dreary and terrible place. A thin mist of fog covered the places she stepped; even if it were brighter out, she couldn’t watch for her own safety as she explored the land of mourning. She hoped His words were true, but wondered when she uttered them aloud, desperately clinging to promises in her heart. She felt the weight of the oppressor in every sinew of her body; it struck her and slowed her and tried to consume her. And with each step she resisted, counting aloud the words of Him who is eternity, pulling them from the wells deep in her heart. She would not give in.

A rare step, here and there, a cool stream of water would flow over the top of her foot, under her arch, between her toes. These moments were the most refreshing pieces of this dreary place, but of course she could never see where to find them because of the mist. Any one step forward, even in search of the cool water on her feet, took all of her might.

The chains, they pulled at her and creaked and resisted with every movement. Etched in each link of the chain were feelings and words and things that hurt oh so deep.

Torment.

Hurt.

Anger.

Rage.

Bitterness.

Despair.

Lies.

Injustice.

Wrong.

Blame.

Guilty.

Betrayal.

She had to escape, but didn’t know how, and the days extended longer and longer in front of her weary heart.

Mourning

The Word of Hope

She breathed deep, caught her wits, and suddenly she was there again. Clear, perfect, the ambient sound so lovely. Nothing had ever graced her senses as such before. These were the moments that kept her heart hopeful in the midst of such a dark and grueling place.

Aching, she began to speak the wrong questions. Questions too big for her understanding, questions whose answers belong only in the safe grasp of the loving Father. It feels so heavy. Her heart feels as though it’s being pulled behind her by a ship’s anchor. Dragging. Straining. Void of mobility – at least on its own. She reads The Words, so full of hope, but this bleak, bleak mess, they contrast so.

Child, sweet child. Remember that day I prompted you to read to your children before bed? It had been a tough day at school. Angry words were said; tears were shed. And the one thing your heart knew to leave them with was thoughts of me. And in those words one thing rang out above the others, learn to live above your troubles. And you so gracefully explained the hope I offer amidst an anguishing world, a way to rise above into joy and peace and eternity.

Oh but this brokenness, we all live it, grueling, exhausting. The sin, it beckons like a siren on the seas. Alluring, calling out so tempting, so easy to follow, only to end up dead. It’s all darkness. We need light. Are these words on pages, prose and history and promise, are they enough to take us to You? To fill the void that seems so ominous? It’s big, Father.

Remind yourself, little one. Even as you wander in the desert, the place I love to teach you, I will speak tenderly to you. Rise to meet me, child. I have grafted you in, given you redemption through a man who is so perfect, even a fragment of sin in his life would have voided your saving. He was and is and is to come. He is the Word you look to for hope. Live and abide in the Word child! The word is the secret that will unlock the darkness to glorious light.

Springlove

The late rains.

There are moments where her heart simply cracks, a tiny bit, and her spirit is drawn to another place. There is no earth, no land beneath her feet, no sky beyond. Silent, humming with beauty that reaches through the known into truth, what is meant to be. He has found her spirit and caught it up with Himself to commune and encourage and love.

She sometimes loses words to pray with. She has gotten lost in the cares of the world, for they loom ever so close, taunting with disaster and heartache. But here, here, her spirit rests and thrives on love and purity, on promise and grace. She remembers He is jealous for her and how perfect is His mercy and compassion. And she prays.

He tells of His Son, the perfect One who walked where her imperfect feet trod. The blessed Lamb who came to show her what true love means by living to die. He lived to die for her little soul. For that one lost sheep, my love, I did that to show you so much. You are little, but my Spirit quickens yours to strength beyond the skin that ties you to a body that is broken. I do this for you so that you might see and be seen.

She often waits. Wondering about these moments that are neither really heaven nor earth, and why they seem fleeting. Where has He gone? Why do I wait and ache and bear this pain? The suffering is immense, enveloping, and not just in her quietly beating heart, but in flesh and blood everywhere she looks. Suffering. Time passing with no answer.

See child, the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient about it, until it receives the early and the late rains. You also, be patient. Establish your heart, dear one, for I am coming to you. Is my fruit worth the waiting? Has your heart cried out in the interim to meet me? Because that is what I desire. I desire your heart to meet with mine, and sometimes sweet one, you only want to meet me when you cry. Sometimes that crying is what reminds you that I am sovereign. I am the one who was and is and is to come. I dwell in the light, created the sea, opened the vast storehouses of hail, rained to satisfy a desolate place. I AM.