Tuesday, March 1, 2011

In the Desert

Right now I’m in the Arizona/Mexico desert. I’m far from my normal life, and the places where I normally write. But as an author and a man I am exactly where I need to be.

In the Bible the desert has always been a place of growing developing. A place of transition between one thing and another. Similar to the Belly of the Whale where Jonah spent three days before being spit onto the shore, the men and women of the Bible who went through the desert always came out on the other side changed. Indeed, Jesus spent 40 days in the desert before he started his ministry. The Children of Israel spent 40 years. David fled there before becoming king, and Elijah was there when he was carried into the Heaven.
Right now I am also in a literal desert. And like those who have gone before me I find myself growing, changing, and transitioning into a new phase of my life.

With my 27th birthday only a few short weeks away I am once again going through my yearly tradition of reassessing my life and determining if I am the man I’ve sought to be. This year I’ve found myself spending this time on the southern border of the United States, and the central question of my life is my spiritual development.

Every year my grandmother spends two months out here with friends. When she’s done she needs someone to driver her back to Colorado. This year was my turn, and I’ve been here with my grandmother since last week (we start driving home tomorrow). The result has been a time of spiritual reawakening: of asking myself what role I have given faith in my life lately. The answer to that question has been sobering. Over the last few years there have been serious aspects of my faith that have been left unattended. This, inevitably, couldn’t last.
So, here I am, growing and changing like a good character in a book, being asked to face the things I don’t want to. It’s time for me to relearn humility, passion, and the reality that God is not a really great backup plan. Mostly, I’m learning to worship. Though I am excited to get back to my home in Colorado so I can start work on my new novel, I also know that this, right now, is where I belong.

Where are you? And what desert has God called you to travel through at this time in your life?

5 comments:

Andrea Kuhn Boeshaar said...

Deserts can be scary places. Sometimes I feel I'll never find my way out. But God leads me out -- and when I'm there I have to trust that He will.

I think it's so nice you've come to drive your grandmother home. My grandkids are young (5 and under) but I hope when they are older they will think to drive their "Grammy" out of the desert. :) God uses grandkids!

Lena Nelson Dooley said...

Good question, Conlan. We all experience deserts in different ways at various stages of our lives.

Here I am in my late 60s. When I was younger, I thought that by now my parenting days would be over. But right now, I have a daughter adn son-in-law who have been slammed by adversity in this economic climate.

My mother-heart is breaking for them. I have learned to depend on God for James and me, but it's hard to depend on Him for my children's lives. I want to dive in and save the day, but I don't have what they need right now. That's my desert experience right now.

C.L. Dyck said...

Currently? Trying to figure out where (and whether) I have a place in my local faith community. It's been a long two years of wrangling that question, and it's sapped a lot of vitality from my walk with God...but it's in His hands to restore that, not in the hands of the people around me.

Lena, my heart aches for your parenting situation. So many of my friends Stateside are going through serious economic trials...bless you for seeking to be there for your kids.

Linda Rios Brook said...

At least you know where you are, Conlan. A lot of people step into uncharted territory thinking they are entering the Promised Land when they have only entered the desert. If you know you are in the desert, you adjust your expectations accordingly. But, if your internal map is expecting the land of milk and honey and instead you get rocks and cactus, it's easy to give up and wonder what went wrong.

Jillian Kent said...

Great thought provoking post, Conlan. I hope you have an awesome time traveling with your grandmother. That's a wonderful thing you are doing. I hope your desert place isn't too painful. Growth usually doesn't come easy.

I'm really tired of traveling through my personal deserts, even though I know it's where I grow. I keep thinking I've grown enough, at least for awhile.:) Like Lena I struggle with issues related to my young adult children and then there is my own personal selfishness of thinking," I thought this time would be my time by now."

I read a devotional many of you are probably familiar with called, Streams in the Desert. Since my life seems to be more bedouin these past ten years I'm continually looking for an oasis.:)

On page 98 the first sentence for todays devotional says, "Evil never surrenders its grasp without a tremendous fight." I wish Satan would just get out of my way, enough already. But this is where I know I have to persevere and lean on God until another oasis shimmers in this desert place.