The first of the year for most people draws them to make resolutions; to turn over a new leaf; to focus on becoming a better person. It’s like an energy boost that gives clarity and focus, but, unfortunately, does not maintain itself on its own. That, my dear friends, is what we forget – that we must find ways to sustain and continue to feed that motivation.
Like so many, this first day of the year has brought the feeling of a fresh chapter in life; a chance to start anew. Yet, at the same time, I am walking through a desert and see no oasis. I feel no refreshing wind that lifts the spirit and urges me to keep pressing on with enthusiasm and joy. It is still the dark of the night, waiting for that first glimmer of dawn before the sun breaks forth.
I suppose my current “career” in life has an added pressure as many people often look up to me, seeing me as some sort of “hero of the Faith” when I am nothing but an ordinary woman serving obediently and faithfully in what I feel God has called me to – just like so many of you in what you see as “ordinary” jobs. We are no different, you and I. But because of being on a pedestal (that I try desperately to climb off of) it makes it so much harder to be honest and state “I am just like you, I go through dry times as well. Help!”
If only you could see my hand-drawn art on the walls of my room, reminding me that I am walking the desert with Much-Afraid and learning to be the flower “Acceptance with Joy.” The verses declaring that “hope deferred makes the heart sick” and a page full of stresses that is not equally countered with blessings and hope. (Or the trash bin filled with tissue.)
But in this period of waiting, this silence from God, this despair of hope, this pain of loneliness, this darkness that seems sometimes overbearing, my little flame of a candle flickers. In the midst of my doubts and Satan’s lies (does God really exist? did He ever really talk to me? am I really doing what I am supposed to be doing?) I find myself clinging to the little truths and hopes from times past. Yes, I’m a practical and tactile girl who struggles immensely when God is quiet and I don’t feel or see Him.
But instead of regressing into depression and condemnation – avoiding spending time with God because I feel guilty of my doubts and struggles – I remember the truth from the last time and claim that “There is therefore no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus.” God does not see me as I see myself. He sees me through my Savior Jesus Christ and loves me with an everlasting love.
Yes, I still find myself reading Scripture out of duty and struggling to get through it. To be honest, I started reading through the Bible chronologically last year and I’m still in the month of September! But I don’t let my failure keep me from it (some days, yes) and I push through. I desperately want to feel God’s presence and be filled with His joy again so I remind myself to meet Him in the ways I know how. Lately, my prayers end with me crying and wondering where God is despite my efforts.
Yet, despite everything (including my doubts), I know deep down within my soul that He exists; that He loves me; and that this season of dryness and feeling the lack of His presence will end. I’ve walked this road before and know it’s not forever (though it seems like it!).
Some days all I can see is the dark of night, the cold of being alone. Some days I rely on the prayers of others who lift me up when I cannot utter any myself. Some days, when my words tumble over themselves and my R’s turn to W’s, I cling to that piece of childlike faith and miracle from my childhood – He does answer my prayers or I wouldn’t be able to say R at all. Some days I pull out my Rhema journal and I read back through all the truths I have written down; Scripture that has touched my soul and revived me in the past. Some days I just sit and cry.
So while right now I walk Psalm 38, I know that Psalm 40 is waiting for me. I take up my darkness like a mantle and walk towards the light. As I seek the Almighty’s presence I learn more about prayer (focus for this new year – join me!) and try to learn about silence. I follow in the steps of Abraham, Job, David, and even Jesus himself. And I walk alongside those of you who suffer through the same. But let us not suffer alone, let us join together because God made us for community and it is in community we are able to grow and find strength when ours fails.
God is our help and our deliverer. He is our God, oh do not delay! (Psalm 40:17)