Desert Places, Watered Gardens and Isaiah 58

{ “And the Lord will guide you continually and satisfy your desire in scorched places and make your bones strong, and you shall be like a watered garden; like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail.” }

-Isaiah 58:11

10523718_10205508246136693_2356977103962871900_nThis is a promise. Notice this isn’t a maybe or a probably or a most likely. No, this is a fact- a clear reality which can be banked upon. He will guide us continually. For He has promised: “I will never leave you or forsake you.” (Deuteronomy 31:6) “Behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:20b) In every season, every second that our hearts are beating- He is guiding us, leading us and continually with us. There is never a point where we are forgotten, left out, or where God dropped the ball on our lives. No, He will faithfully guide us- even through the scorched and desert places. Even in those wilderness and dry seasons when we feel nothing. We don’t understand what God is doing or how the pain we feel will somehow be for His glory and our good. When we feel betrayed, misguided and abandoned. Jesus longs to meet us there. He reminds us that there is not one step in this life that we will have to walk alone. Often times God takes us to the wilderness and scorched places to remind us that He is truly all that we need. He strips us of all other dependencies and other loves so that we can see that He alone is what we need and the only thing that will satisfy the depths of our longing souls. (Think of Hosea and Gomer)

Elisabeth Elliot wrote these profound and true words on the wilderness:

“We may earnestly desire to be obedient and holy. But we may be missing the fact that it is here, where we happen to be in this moment and not another place or another time, that we may learn to love Him- here where it seems that He is not at work, where His will seems obscure or frightening, where He is not doing what we expected Him to do, where He is most absent. Here and nowhere else is the appointed place. If faith does not go to work here, it will not go to work at all.”

Elisabeth Elliot, (from The Path of Loneliness)

It is in the scorched places where we have the opportunity to be made strong. It is not when life is easy and carefree that we grow most but through the trials, through the pain, through the fiery refinement- that is when we are made most strong. It is in those times that we can learn to feast upon the riches of Christ alone. It is in these seasons where we learn to agree with Asaph’s declaration:

“Nevertheless I am continually with You; You hold my right hand. You guide me with Your counsel, and afterward You will receive me to glory. Whom have I in Heaven but You? And there is nothing on earth that I desire beside You. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.” (Psalm 73:23-26)

“And you will be like a watered garden, like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail.” When we drink deeply of the Living Water our souls are satisfied yet thirsty still for more and more of Him. As we seek Christ as our Source for life and joy- it can’t help but overflow into every area of our lives. We can’t help but speak of Him and rejoice in His goodness and long that all men may come to the Fountain and find life. People will notice that we aren’t like the rest. We live life a little different from the world- our outlook and perspective isn’t the most common or popular, our aspirations and joys are not like the worlds. It should be our prayer that as a result of our lives feasting upon the goodness of Jesus- the world is drawn to the Hope that lives within us. We have the opportunity and privilege to be little springs of water in this thirsty world. And by the power of the Holy Spirit-  lead them to the Well of Living Water.

Whatever stage of this verse you find yourself in- whether it is the struggle to trust God’s leading or guiding in your life- rest in His promises. They are facts. They are realities upon which we can bank our everything upon. Whether it is the struggle to find satisfaction- I urge you dear one to believe – that He alone satisfies us- even in the driest droughts of the soul. Yes, this season is agonizing and painful. I have been there and am well acquainted with this wilderness. It is not easy in the slightest, but dare to believe your God and let Him go to work at your heart. Whether you are in a season where you are as a watered garden- I urge you to continually be watered but Jesus- He alone can produce the fruit in us. There is not a point where we are no longer in need of further grace and mercy. There is no point where we can say, “I have arrived.” (As Elisabeth Elliot said once.) Go again and again to your Source. Be continually filled up with more and more of Jesus. When people are drawn to you- point them to Jesus- the One who has made what was once a desolate and dead life- now a flourishing garden full of the life of Christ. May He be your Sustenance and Supply. He is truly the Well that will never run dry.

“O God, I have tasted Thy goodness, and it has both satisfied me and made me thirsty for more. I am painfully conscious of my need for further grace. I am ashamed of my lack of desire. O God, the Triune God, I want to want Thee; I long to be filled with longing; I thirst to be made more thirsty still. Show me Thy glory, I pray Thee, so that I may know Thee indeed. Begin in mercy a new work of love within me. Say to my soul, “Rise up my love, my fair one, and come away.” Then give me grace to rise and follow Thee up from the misty lowlands where I have wandered so long.”

-A.W. Tozer

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