Desolate Places

About 6 weeks ago, the Lord began to speak to me through several people of lonely times ahead.   The main thrust of the message was along these lines:  “Even if it is just you, keep pressing on and don’t give up.”   I am so thankful that the Lord was preparing me for such a time as this.

In these last 6 weeks I have seen people move on from our ministry, I have had others act as though they never even knew me and my greatest well of strength was capped off and sealed.   Financial deadlines have come and gone with no answers revealed and everything I have set my hand to could best be described as barren and lacking in fruitfulness.

Sounds pretty dismal doesn’t it?  It certainly is not much fun, but it would have been much worse without the warning.

A few days ago, I was really struggling as I watched a financial deadline come and go without deliverance for the need.  I often discuss that in my life God tends to operate on the 11:59:59 principle…arriving at the last second, but right on time.   This time however, there was no deliverance…the deadline came and went.   So I retreated to a quiet place and poured my heart out to the Lord.   His instruction to me…go to the beach.

As I followed the Lord’s prompting, I drove to the Padre Island National Seashore.  I parked my truck, kicked off my shoes and began walking along the water line.   After nearly 45 minutes of walking  began to see a figure in the distance that I at first thought was a radio antenna.  As I drew closer I found that what I had been seeing was not a radio antenna, but a barren tree.   Actually it wasn’t even a barren tree, but instead was a 12 foot tree limb that had been planted in the sand.

Under normal circumstances, this tree limb would not even be noticed.  In fact, it would be dismissed because it was barren and distressed; however, on the seashore this tree limb is magnetic.   It is the only thing standing for miles of shoreline, and because of that distinction you are drawn to it.  You find yourself wondering what it is, and on closer inspection you find that it has been planted in the sand.

As I looked at this scene the Lord began to speak to me about my circumstances.  He pointed out that my life is much like that branch.   He has planted me in a place of isolation and loneliness where my life becomes magnified to all who see it.  The sight of a man standing under such difficult circumstances draws them closer.   As they come closer they see the establishing work of God taking place in my life.  If I had been planted in a lush, fertile environment, God’s work in my life might be overlooked; however, it is through my unique presence in such a barren place that His work become prominent.

I must admit, I didn’t at first find much peace in those words…in fact, they were somewhat difficult to hear.   Then the Lord showed me something else.   He had me turn around and look out at the waves as they came ashore.   He had me take note of the pelicans flying over the water and the crabs in the sand.   He reminded me that this sad looking tree had something no other tree had…a front row seat to the beauty of the Gulf and all that comes with it.

This morning, Mike led us through the transfiguration.   The Lord again spoke to me some deep truths during this time.  The two men who appeared with Jesus were Moses and Elijah…two men who knew what it meant to go it alone.  We speculated as to what the conversation might have been, and I felt impressed that some of it was a reminder that the path of glory often includes extended visits to desolate places.

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