As is my customary habit, I asked the Lord at the spring of this New Year to give me a word for 2006–a particular Scripture that appealed to my spirit and carried a vision, however dim, for the days to come. I have been literally amazed in years past to see what bearing these verses and passages have had upon my outlook for a year and my attitude towards God’s dealings with me as the months slip by one after another. And as I skim over the dates scribbled by certain verses in the margins of my Bible I see a little personal panorama of His unfolding plan for my life: promises fulfilled with surprising joy; comfort that went deeper than any merely human words could reach; heart’s desires and future hopes bolstered by the sweet witness of God’s purpose for me as a woman.Certain passages stand out so clearly to me that even now their very reference brings to mind a specific year. Isaiah 41:19, 20 is beautiful with images of the year that God finally and abundantly caused love to flower in my life. The promise of Psalm 91:9, 10 proved peculiarly appropriate for the new fears we all faced in 2001. I Timothy 1:7’s injunction to ‘train yourself to be godly’ was a prelude to a year of great personal struggles and spiritual overhaul that I now consider one of the richest seasons of my life.
So, I’ve been praying about this a lot over the past few days, and all of the passages that seem to leap from the page or waft through my mind contain the imagery of the wilderness becoming a fruitful place. At first I balked at this. I’m not in a ‘wilderness’–though I certainly know what one looks like! I really do feel that by the Lord’s mercy I’m in a very fruitful place. Everywhere I look I have things to offer praise for. He has blessed me with a beloved husband and a home I delight to keep; with a loving and supportive family nearby; with music and poetry, golden dawns and crimson sunsets; good books to read and good smells to come from my kitchen and good friends to chat with over tea.
And yet, this morning, I had to admit to myself and to God that there is indeed a desert corner in my heart, a patch of barrenness that I think can only be filled with one thing–and which the Lord Himself is wanting to transform into a gorgeous oasis. It was almost as if with the acknowledgement came His whisper, ‘It’s alright to be sad about that. Now, let Me make it something beautiful.‘
The memory of His past mercies wash over me in a loving tide, and I know that all will be well. For if there’s anything I’ve learned of Him, it’s how faithful He is to those who wait for Him. And there are few greater boons to our spiritual lives than these desires that both gladden and stab and ultimately keep us at His feet.
So here is my verse for 2006:
‘The wilderness and the solitary place shall be glad for them; and the desert shall rejoice, and blossom as the rose. It shall blossom abundantly, and rejoice even with joy and singing…they shall see the glory of the Lord, and the excellency of our God.’ Isaiah 35:1,2