Waste Places


Desolate.  Arid.  That place where your soul is parched.  You feel the cracks widening across the landscape of your heart.
 
You think you are all alone.  
Forsaken.  
No one understands.  
No one knows how you feel. 

On the outside, you brighten your smile.  You convince yourself and others that you have never been greater than you are presently. 

But you see that haunting plea mirrored in your eyes every morning.  Will someone please enter my desert with me? 

This desert – it breeds despair.  It courts defeat.  
In this desert, the wind of the tempter’s whisper brushes your ear.  
You begin to listen to these whispers.  
And you spiral down into the vortex of lies. 

And the dry cracks are ever widening. 

Dear soul, Jesus knows that desert you are in.  Jesus journeyed in a desert too.  He’s not blinded by your smile.  He hears the unspoken cry of desperation.  He sees the ever-widening cracks spider-webbed across your heart. 

You’re afraid of these arid cracks.  Jesus steps right into them and fills them.  He’s not afraid of your desert.  There – in that desert?  That’s where Jesus thrives. 

Isaiah 51:3  For the Lord comforts Zion; He comforts all her waste places and makes her wilderness like Eden, her desert like the garden of the Lord; joy and gladness will be found in her, thanksgiving and the voice of song.

Dear one, hear me when I say:  It’s okay if you can’t find joy and gladness right now.  You are not less of a believer if you can’t find your voice of song.
  
Right now?  Just rest.  BE.  Be that waste place that Jesus comforts.  
That’s all that’s required of you. 

That voice?  That song?  It will come.  When?  I wish I could tell you soon but I can’t say.  I don’t know when your desert will become vibrant and lush with joy and gladness.  It may take days, months, maybe even years.

You just be in Jesus and He will take it from there. 

Don’t hinder yourself and God by self-imposed time limits on navigating through this desert.  Whether it is the desert of loss, grief, rejection, depression, doubt, pain, anger, loneliness, uncertainty, maybe just the day-to-day frustrations.

Whatever the name of your desert, my friend, Jesus finds you there.  Other hearts reach out to you there.  
You. Are. Not. Alone.  
We’ve all got our deserts.  
You are understood.  
You are loved.

Now just BE.  
Be redeemed in your waste places. 
Be comforted in your desert.  
Be loved in your desert.  
By Jesus who says, “Be in Me.”


Photo Credit: Google Images
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Two Words with a "C"

     

                               
                           “God doesn’t condone but neither does He condemn.”
                                                                                                        –Pastor Steven Furtick

I had clinicals this past weekend so I couldn’t make it to church.  I was feeling empty this morning when I woke up.  I went online in search of a sermon to listen to while I did my secretary duties.  I stumbled across sermons from Elevation Church.  I will definitely be tuning into more of their sermons.  Check them out sometime at http://elevationchurch.org/

This one phrase stuck out to me.  “God doesn’t condone but neither does He condemn.”  Both words start with “c” but can have totally opposite effects on a person.  Condoning encourages the sin.  Condemning demoralizes the sinner.

Condoning offers a misplaced complacency.  Condoning mistakenly assumes that God is merely a God of love when in truth He is also a God of judgment and a God of consequences for sin.  Condoning tells you there’s no need to change when in reality, change is essential to your soul’s very life.

Condemnation causes the sinner to lose hope.  Condemnation says you’re hopeless.  Condemnation screams shame relentlessly in your ear.  Condemnation makes you lie down in front of the train instead of picking yourself up and doing the repentance walk forward to your Savior.  Condemnation is the effective approach of your soul’s enemy.  Condemnation hisses that it’s no use, you’ll never change; you’ll never be good enough; you’ll never be washed clean.  Condemnation insists God isn’t enough; Jesus didn’t die to save you because you’re too dirty for Him to save.  Condemnation keeps your eyes cast down in order to prevent you from seeing your Father’s look of mercy and grace.  Condemnation clenches your fist and stiff-arms you from reaching out and grasping Jesus’ outstretched hand.  Condemnation holds you captive to a sin that Jesus gives you the power to cast away from you.

I don’t know about you but I am so grateful that my God doesn’t condemn me when I fall.

The truth that Jesus says to me, “Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more” has made all the difference in my battle to live in righteousness.  If you doubt my confidence in this Jesus of mine and His merciful forgiveness, turn to John 7:53 – 8:11.  A woman who was caught in the scandalous act of adultery was dragged into the presence of Jesus.  Talk about shame and disgrace meeting righteousness and holiness. This kind of scandalous behavior was punishable by death according to the Law God had given His people. Surely if Jesus was who He claimed to be He would be the first to throw a stone at this woman, or so her “pious” accusers thought.  But thank God, they were so wrong!  Jesus did no such thing.  He didn’t even raise His voice at her and ream her out, wondering how she could possibly have thought of doing something like that!  Instead, Jesus extended His forgiveness to her.  He also required of her to not go back to that kind of behavior but the important part is that He forgave her.  How much more should we, who can not see the heart of a person, extend grace to those caught in scandalous acts!

How many times have I condemned myself, too proud to accept Jesus’ unfailing forgiveness?  How many times have I haughtily looked down my nose at someone who I considered a scandalous sinner?  When in truth, I am no better than they.  We all are in desperate need of Jesus’ extended hand of mercy and forgiveness, whether or not we allow ourselves to be dragged into His presence.

Another thing I see is that this woman did not need to first go home and clean herself up before coming into Jesus’ presence.  She came with the stains of sin still embedded in her.  She came disheveled by her sin.  She came dirty.  Jesus didn’t flinch; Jesus didn’t turn away from her in disgust.  How many times have I slunk away from my sin to huddle in a corner with my back to Jesus trying desperately to scrub away my filth?  I can never clean myself up.  There’s no need to clean myself up before I come to Jesus.  Jesus came to clean me up; He didn’t come to inspect my ability to clean myself up.  Listen my friend, if you’re waiting till you’re cleaner to come to Jesus in repentance….Stop waiting!  The time to come to Jesus is right after you’ve dirtied yourself with sin!  Don’t wait!  Waiting only gives sin more power over you.  Waiting only embeds the sin deeper in you.  Waiting only makes the stains all the more dried on.

“Neither do I condemn you, go and sin no more.”  Those have got to be some of the sweetest words recorded.  They have made all the difference to me in my journey to freedom from my sin and filth.