How to Flourish in the Dry Places
We all face seasons in the wilderness; 2018 was like that for me. It reminded me of a bad morning that wouldn’t end, like a scene out of Groundhog Day. You know, those mornings when everything goes wrong. The kind where you wake up late and go to make coffee but realize you are out of it. You scramble to get everyone out the door looking half decent for school drop-off, then head to Starbucks for the caffeine you’ve been craving, only to order your tall cafe latte with an extra shot of espresso and realize you don’t have your wallet when you get to the window. That brutal morning was the kind of year I had in 2018.
I went into it excitedly because I knew it would involve some big decisions for our family, including a career change for my husband, taking a step of faith and moving to a new place we felt God calling us to go with no job or house and only a handful of paychecks we had coming from the military.
I naively thought God was calling us to this place to do a work in others when, in reality, it was about Him doing a work in me.
I felt lost in motherhood, my past, in comparison, in insecurities and relationships. I related to the Israelites during that season and began questioning why God had brought us to this place. Nothing was as I thought it would be, and despite spending years moving around as a military spouse, this transition seemed to be breaking me. I decided to see a counselor to process everything I was feeling, but I ended up working through old wounds I didn’t know still bled.
“Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.” (Isaiah 43:19 ESV)
Week after week, I sat in Suite 301, peeling back layer after layer of all the seasons I had become so accustomed to pushing through. Putting one foot in front of the other gets the job done for a while, but when we are trying so hard to trudge through the mud and the muck, we miss God parting the sea, making way for an exodus.
I imagine there was great excitement as Moses led the Israelites out of Egypt, but they faced more hurdles just days after miraculously crossing the Red Sea. “Then Moses made Israel set out from the Red Sea, and they went into the wilderness of Shur. They went three days in the wilderness and found no water. When they came Marah, they could not drink the water of Marah because it was bitter; therefore it was named Marah. And the people grumbled against Moses, saying, “What shall we drink?” (Exodus 15:22-24 ESV).
Here, they are excited to have fled their captors but end up in the desert, can’t find any water for days, and when they do, it’s bitter. I think we have this perceived notion of how freedom and delivery look when, in reality, a rescue doesn’t always look how we would expect. Sometimes, it comes through a season in the wilderness, where we awaken to idols we’ve made and slowly begin to realize why we created them.
When life feels out of sorts, I try to control the little stuff, making control an idol. What about you? Do you have something you turn to in wilderness seasons? Perhaps you’ve made something an idol and God is trying to make you aware of?
Maybe your journey feels dry, and you, too, thought you found refreshment but instead experienced bitterness. Or perhaps you’ve been pushing through one season to the next. Are longing for your own exodus from something holding you captive. Or is God calling you to do something out of your comfort zone that requires a step of faith.
Either way, He is making all things new. Sometimes, it’s in the driest places we grow the most when we are forced to thirst for God in a way we hadn’t before.
Sarah Nichols is a writer who loves encouraging women by sharing hope-filled stories that point others to Jesus. She lives in Tucson, AZ, with her husband and four kids. You can find more from Sarah at http://sarahnicholswrites.com