Thursday, January 3, 2013

Renewed Hope

I love the desert.  Something about it pulls wildly on my heart.  It constantly reminds me that life can be borne in the harshest of environments, and gives me hope through the wilderness seasons of my life.  This last year, 2012, could be summed up for me in one word.  Barren.  Everything I touched seemed to come up empty of fruitfulness.

My dream to write some Bible studies for high school girls has virtually gone dormant. . . until recently.  At the beginning, I took some steps of faith in pursuit of obedience to God's call.  One of those steps was to start this blog, taking great risk at being vulnerable.  Another was to put out a fair chunk of money towards an editor.  I also gave up a teaching ministry to young children, which I dearly loved, in order to devote more time to writing.  Yet, through it all, I've learned that I don't really enjoy writing and that it entails much more than I anticipated.  I don't have any ambitions to write a book, to be an author, or even to blog.  I just wanted a tool to teach high school girls the Bible. 

But last Sunday I believe God gave me the confirmation I was looking for to continue.  Ezekiel, a prophet of God, is told to do something really senseless; prophecy over a battlefield of dried out bones baked in the sun.  Twice he is asked to simply obey God.  It seems pointless, futile, even creepy, something from a Halloween freak show.  Against all common sense, Ezekiel simply obeys.   At the breath of God, flesh and tendons are formed on the bones and they come to life.  (Ezekiel 37:4-10)

I've been feeling like all my efforts at writing have been a waste and that maybe I didn't hear God's voice on it at all.  Doubts have been swirling hard and fast in my mind.  Maybe I've been chasing my own ambitions rather than God's call.  All I have to show for several year's worth of work are skeletons of half finished projects.  I have ambitious ideas but fleshing them out has been a challenge, to say the least.  

Oh how I need the breath of God!  But along with that my obedience is crucial.  He can put flesh and muscle on these dry bones.  He can cause the words to flow.  I must simply obey and leave the breath up to Him. 

I've procrastinated because, well, its hard work and takes a good amount of personal discipline.  I've been distracted, even rather cleaning toilets or ironing shirts than writing.  I need to obey but am also learning that God may not have guided me to writing for the sake of the writing, but rather as a tool to work on my character.  He is sanding off some really sharp edges like never before . . . edges I didn't even know I had.

Bones live.
Deserts bloom.

God's Word does not return empty,
                  but accomplishes what He desires . . .  not necessarily what I desire. (Isa. 55:10-11)
It achieves His purpose which may not have been my purpose.  I don't know.  I only seek to obey.  Such a little word for a great big work.

Isaiah 55 goes on to say that "you will go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and the hills will burst into song before you, and all the trees of the field will clap their hands."  God can make the barren fruitful.  He promises that if we abide in Him we will bear fruit. (John 15:5)  It is a given.  I don't have to try so hard, it will come about as I abide, which entails obedience.

Can these bones live?  Yes, for "instead of the thornbush will grow the pine tree, and instead of the briars the myrtle will grow."  (Isa. 55:13)

And all this, "for the LORD'S renown..."  (Isa. 55:13)
For the glory of God.

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