Monday, May 26, 2008

Stepping Out of the Desert

For those of you keeping up with the Sisters' Weblog, you will know that I, Sue, have been suffering through a spiritual depression, struggling through a very dry and dark desert, and this has been hindering my Christian walk in the Lord as well as relationships with my brothers and sisters in the faith. I have been searching and searching for a way out and my efforts have been falling quite short. Horizon to horizon I have only seen a parched land dotted with the remains of a withering harvest pining for a desert rain.

I have learned some things about enduring the desert and someday I plan to share about that, however, I recently experienced a breakthrough. I feel it is necessary to share about this if only to offer hope to those in the same place. Also, if you haven't already seen this, check out the video I posted below of Kim Walker leading worship to the song "How He Loves Us". It is quite impacting and it will literally draw you into worship. The melody will stay with you and the lyrics are something you need to hear and repeat to yourself many times a day.

I'm still cautious about claiming that the desert is in my rear view mirror, but I do know that I am taking my first steps out!

What you are about to read are my journal entries from this past Sunday (05/18/08) through Tuesday (05/20/08).


Justin graduated today and I am so proud! As all the celebration was going on all around today, I was keenly aware of the stirring in my heart that was aroused in worship last night. I experienced what I might call a “re-awakening” – a new sense of Whose I am. Was it so simple that all this time I’ve been spiritually dry, that all I needed was some focused worship? That all I needed was guided prayer and the time to be contemplative? I can’t explain any of this. I know I have more steps to take, but last night something special happened within me. I felt God again. I felt Him loving me. It was joyous and wondrous and meaningful. I want to go back to it. The experience has reignited hope again. I have hope that God really is alive and active in me.

Nights like last night can not be planned. Check it out – I arrive and once the worship team comes out the leader announces something “different” for the night. There will be a short message, but the evening was going to be dedicated to worship, a night of singing and praising and worship. My reaction was one of displeasure at this prospect since I’m not a “clapper” or a “worshiper”, at least not demonstratively. I thought “Oh great, just great”. So the music begins and I settle in for much more music to come. I listened for awhile and absorbed the sounds and the lyrics and then I felt a nudge to pray. People were standing and worshiping as I chose to remain in my seat having no clue that my life was about to be so heavily impacted. I finally gave in and started to pray. It was difficult for me to focus – prayer has been so difficult for so long, for so many years. Still, I persisted. I felt, literally felt, called to pray.

I guess my praying last night was my sacrifice of praise. As I persevered into prayer it became easier to focus. I let the music take me and the prompts guide me to Him. Soon I was there before Him, before His Throne.

I didn’t know what to say. I said nothing for a time. Praise Him? Thank Him? Adore Him? I was feeling at a loss, somewhat foolish, mostly unworthy. I sat with head in hands grasping for the words to talk to my King. They didn’t come easy, but little by little they began to trickle forth.

My prayer was clunky and all over the place, but I realized something – I realized He was listening. It has been a very long time since I felt God was listening to me, since I felt like He cared, really cared. It stunned me. I smiled. I treasured the moment, those few moments I sat and was talking into my Father’s ear that was turned toward me. At that moment all I could do is thank Him for listening, thank Him for that moment, the music, the atmosphere, the family of God I was in the midst of, the friends He has given me, the deeper relationships He is growing between myself and my sisters in Christ. I found myself thanking Him for life and for loving me despite how wasteful I have been with it.

This was a Divine Connection I was experiencing. Really experiencing. It can only be attributed to the Divine.

The worship continued and the music permeated my ears seeking the thoughts of my heart, hunting them down, coaxing them out and carrying them to the Lord. It started to become easier. There was a free flowing communication in this connection. I had felt that before, but it had been so long. For so long I have been reminiscing about how at one time in my spiritual life I shared an open connection with the Lover of my soul. I could hear Him and I could feel Him, and for years now I have not felt that at all. All I’ve heard is deafening silence. All I’ve felt is numb.

Now, here I was suddenly and unexpectedly swept up in His Arms. Truly, it caught me off guard. Remember? I was actually disappointed when the worship leader announced that the evening was to be devoted to worship with music and singing. I was there for the message. I was there to hear a word through teaching. That’s how God talks to me. I can’t pray, I’m not much into corporate worship so He speaks through sermons and people talking and sharing with me. He speaks to me, well at least He used to, through His Word. I wasn’t expecting burning bushes, angelic appearances, or a talking ass; I was just hoping I’d hear something from Him through a message. Instead, there would be a “short” message and lots and lots and lots or praise and worship. So, I wasn’t looking forward to the evening.

Then, it happened. He touched me. He was listening to me and I had to tell Him what I was thinking. I had to tell Him what I was feeling. Much of my time in this spiritual desert, especially over this last year, has been spent wondering why I am in the desert, how I got there and how to get out. I’ve sought to get out by various means; listening to sermons, seeking my mentors to help guide me out, asking for prayer since mine do not work, doing studies, discarding books about the Bible in favor of the Bible itself, cutting out my talk radio addiction, pulling myself away from the computer, reaching out to others in order to “do life together” and build relationships with others, stepping outside my comfort zone. None of these ideas were fruitful. Nothing worked. Not one thing I was doing, or have been trying to do, has worked. Nothing. I’d get a glimmer now and then, a little something to cling to, a small reminder that God does love me, but even though I have always believed it, and I have always known it, I wasn’t feeling it. I desperately wanted to feel it. I wanted to feel His Presence.

Then, there I was – feeling Him. Oh the joy! What I was experiencing seemed foreign to me, but I was breathing it in! I was breathing Him in. He was the air I breathe and I hate that song! (Don’t really hate it, I’m just sick of it.)

As I looked around I saw a great witness of worshipers. I was seeing outward signs of worship, but I was bursting within. I saw faces aglow, arms raised high, eyes closed and lips praising through songs, but I was quiet, contemplative, motionless, yet basking in His glory. I didn’t know these songs, but my heart was singing them to my Father anyway. My meager words are not expressing the experience and the rush of those moments that night. I kept repeating in my mind “only say the word and I shall be healed.” I had believed Him for healing once and He was faithful. He is always faithful! I shall be healed, I shall walk out of the desert!

He was alive and in me and I could feel Him! Do you understand how awesome that feeling is? Do you know how long it has been ? Do you know how refreshing this is? Thank you God!


So then the music was silenced. Time for the message – but I no longer wanted the message – I had already received the message! I heard! The message was delivered through that still small voice that whispered “I love you” with such pinpoint precision that it penetrated a hairline crack in the stony heart of mine. Almost instantaneously I felt a softening. A relief of sorts.

So after having been “rudely” interrupted by a message, again the music and prayer was lifted up. I soaked it all in. I soaked in Him. I was savoring this time of talking to my Father and knowing, f e e l i n g , He was listening and there with me! You HAVE NO IDEA!! NO IDEA!! Literally my face began hurting because I was smiling so much – involuntarily I might say.

I was rejoicing! I am rejoicing! I feel awake again! He Word is alive and active in me! Could this be the end of the desert? Is this the breakthrough I have been pining for? I admit I am somewhat reluctant to embrace the possibility. Which then makes me feel unworthy of Him because I’m lacking faith and not trusting that He really can lift me out of the pit in the fullness of time, which to me may seem like suddenly, out of nowhere – but to Him the timing is Perfect as is He. Could it be that He has pined for this moment too? Could it be that He has wanted this as much as I?

I want to celebrate, but I feel foolish. I want to be glad, but is it premature? Oh God make my brain bow down! Where is my child-like faith?

Is this real? Is it really You? What am I talking about? Yes, of course it is You.

Then I think about the irony of last Saturday evening. It should be highly unlikely for me that God would choose worship time to make the Divine Connection. Logically, at least for most, it would seem the perfect time, but I am not a “normal” worshiper. I like to become “invisible” during worship and allow things to go on around me. I will listen intently to melodies and rhythm and devour lyrics and the open spaces where silences fall. I will look around at faces lost in worship that feel blessed to be in His Presence. I internalize and ponder but for the life of me never expected to encounter God in the midst of worship when I only participate “on the surface.” I don’t know – worship is personal, individual and I have a tendency to withdraw from corporate worship settings – like I don’t fit there.


Oh God! It has been three days and I still feel refreshed and alive. I’m starting to believe this is for real. Still, I have mortal moments that snap me back and threaten to interrupt communication with my Father. Having had the sweetness of His Touch revitalize my soul though, has given me a taste to crave again. Oh God help me push these hindrances out of my way so that I will continue to encounter you in this very personal and meaningful way. (The fact that I used the word “way” twice in that sentence is bothering me.)

This is all virtually unexpected – not that I haven’t believed He would rescue me, but I didn’t see it coming. Not that night. Not in an unfamiliar place with unfamiliar people and unfamiliar music, unfamiliar voices, unfamiliar words, sights and sounds. I never saw it coming but oh how I have hoped that it would. Deliverance – to the Promised Land – a place He will not withhold from me. A place He has not withheld from me.
“So Heaven meets earth like a sloppy wet kiss
And my heart turns violently inside of my chest
I don’t have time to maintain these regrets
When I think about the way He loves us.”
Those are recently discovered lyrics from “How He Loves Us”, a worship song performed by Kim Walker. (See video below)

This is a gift. I wish to accept it. To embrace it. To ponder it. Treasure it.

It bloggles the mind!

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