The God of My Desert
I’ve had my share of howling and panting in the desert, and I’m only three and a half decades in. Two desert seasons I can recall with clarity. The first occurred early in our marriage. I was finishing up my last semester of college and Matt was in the thick of ministry. We called him the utility back on staff at church. His main charge was over the college ministry but he would also teach children’s church, fill in the pulpit while our pastor was away, and even help compose by-laws. All of this was in addition to his position as Bible teacher at the large, collegiate, weekly gathering in town and as a traveling preacher.
Matt’s calling was clear: preach the gospel and lead people. Everywhere I turned I saw confirmation. Whatever he found to do, it flourished. The Bible study grew from a few hundred to over a thousand. The college ministry thrived and multiplied. On staff, he was being groomed to eventually be a pastor himself or a ministry leader. Congregants regularly shared stories of the Lord using Matt to bring their friends and family to Christ or a breakthrough in their own relationship with the Lord.
From all appearances, Matt might as well have been chugging from the canteen while I watched with a sandy stare. Don’t get me wrong, I was thrilled Matt was enjoying fruitfulness and drinking deeply from the well God provided. Being his wife, I got to appreciate the benefits. But only so far.
What about me, God? I’m here too!
Contentment eluded me. I was doing everything I was supposed to be doing. I dove into the life of our church. I served in the youth ministry. I discipled younger women. I went to class and made good grades. I sang on the worship team at the college Bible study.
Oh, that last one.
That’s where I wanted to be fulfilled most. And that’s where I felt the driest, the loneliest, the least fulfilled. The tension was strange. I struggled when I sang because I didn’t like what I heard. I didn’t feel as though I was offering my best. I didn’t feel good enough. But I also struggled when I didn’t sing. My pride was hurt when I wasn’t invited to sing with the worship band. I felt an unceasing pull toward using my voice.
At one point I was so exasperated that I said to God, “If it’s going to be this way, I’d rather You just take this desire from me completely!”
God assured me that He had a purpose in this struggle
A little oasis in the desert came when He responded. Through someone I didn’t know nor who knew little to nothing about me, God assured me that He had a purpose in this struggle and in using my voice to bring Him glory. I didn’t realize it was only an oasis until I found myself wandering again through the sand and sun. He eventually led me out, but I’m saving that story for a later chapter.
Excerpted from Steadfast Love by Lauren Chandler. Copyright 2016 B&H Publishing Group
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