There is a particular quote from the movie Steel Magnolias that I have thought to myself over and over in this tiny rent house: “I have found it. I am in hell.” You may be thinking to yourself one of two things: 1) This is a Christian blog-you cannot talk like that; 2) It can’t be that bad. Well 1) I promised to be very transparent with this blog and you cannot tell me you’ve never thought the same thing and 2) it’s not but as I sit in a dirty kitchen with a leaky roof, it feels that way.
Since we sold our home and moved into this little rental I have struggled. Wall to wall wood paneling, no dishwasher and lack of heat have really put me out of my comfort zone. Add in a leaky roof and a musty smell of pipe tobacco and you have a great mixture of “Welcome to reality: it bites”. When we decided to sell our home and move into this rent house until our house was built, I thought it would be a great adventure. I wrote “Love Grows Best in Little Houses” on a chalkboard, decided a full size bed meant snuggles and a better chance of a baby and bought a houseplant. I exerted every bit of energy I could muster up to put on a happy face and decorate on a budget. I hung pictures, I bought decorative throws, I diffused essential oils. I did everything I could. And still I sit here stressed as I look around the dark room.
It’s not really the house. It just adds to my frustration and provides a filter in which to blame my discontent with this season of life. So far, building a house has proved to be one headache after another. I actually have to work on the farm now, which is a whole other discussion for another day. I’m desperately fighting the urge to get pregnant until the house gets built but I also get fertility updates on my phone and I may also write them on the marker board in our hallway just incase Jon decides that he’s ready to try again. Work this week has been stressful, a good friend of the family passed away, and my grandfather is very sick. Jon has also had a very stressful week. And it seems that when everything else is falling a part, distractions start coming in from every side.
I imagine that this season of life isn’t what God was referring to when he spoke of the Israelites in their pursuit of the Promised Land. But man, does it feel like it. I’m not in a literal desert but my heart is thirsty for contentment. Finding that contentment in Christ is a noble and lofty goal, but it’s not easy. Everything is overwhelming. Everything seems hard and everything seems to be falling a part rather than falling in place.
As I sat to write this post, in complete silence, I thought to myself “ I need a verse” and almost audibly heard the Lord say “ Open your Bible to Isaiah”. I remarkably remembered my books of the Bible and quickly flipped to the crisp pages. I prayed “Lord, why Isaiah?” and flipped the page. I read the first two words and got chills as it stopped me dead in my tracks. Isaiah 35: 1 reads, “The desert and the parched land will be glad; the wilderness will rejoice and blossom. Like the crocus, it will burst into bloom; it will rejoice greatly and shout for joy.” I went on to read Isaiah 35:3-4 which reads, “Strengthen the feeble hands, steady the knees that give way; say to those with fearful hearts, “Be strong, do not fear, your God will come, he will come with vengeance, with divine retribution and he will come to save you.”
Though my kitchen is still a mess, and my mind is extremely anxious, those words spoke peace to my heart this morning.
It’s not easy, in the “wilderness” seasons of life, to stop in the chaos and sit with the Lord. For one thing, wilderness often leads to weariness and weariness leads to sin. And sin, separates us from God. Just as the Israelites sinned against God, we ourselves find it easy to preoccupy our minds with sinful thoughts and participate in things displeasing to God. Wilderness also often leads to discontentment, which flourishes into anger towards God and causes a fear of messing things up worse than they already are.
However, what I feel like the Lord is continuing to teach me in this wilderness season-despite my attempts to navigate through it on my own- is that this is no time for good girl faith. This is time for messy, real, hard, gritty, gutsy faith. It’s time for faith trumps feeling kind of faith. Because we are in the thick of it, and there’s no easy way out. Though we are in the wilderness, and we desperately are grasping for control, we have to choose to release control to God. Though we are in the wilderness, and we are terrified of everything falling apart, we have to stop clenching it so tightly in our feeble hands. Though we are in the wilderness, and we are exhausted and irritated and weak, we have to rest in HIM no matter our circumstances. A faith trumps fear kind of faith.
I don’t know if you’re facing a wilderness season of your own. You may be like me: sitting at the kitchen table, staring out the window, wanting to throw in the towel. Maybe your wilderness season mirrors mine. Maybe you’re experiencing it in your marriage, in your home, in your desire for a child. Or maybe you are experiencing it in a career. Whatever it is, know that despite how desolate your circumstances may seem, the Lord has promised that the “wilderness will rejoice and blossom”. Hang in there. He will do as he’s promised. He will come.