"Lord, teach us the distinction between the brokenness that leads us to squander our gifts and the brokenness that leads us the seek and find You, even in the most desolate places. Amen."
This was the prayer at the end of my daily devotional from yesterday. It was a gut-check and a lump in my throat kind of prayer. Lately I've been thinking about how one of my favorite Psalms, 63, speaks of being thirsty and hungry for Him, "In a dry and weary land where there is no water." We often think of the desolate times in our faith as deserts, but there is something about the desolate place in this Psalm that makes the writer hungry and thirsty. For God. And that tradition, of the desert as a place where one seeks Him who feeds and quenches our deepest desires continued with the 'Desert Fathers and Mothers.' These were men and women who knew there was something vital about the empty places in the world where everything else is stripped away and they met and communed with their Father alone.
There aren't many of us who are prone to going out into real desert places. Death Valley doesn't hold much appeal. But what is also true is we've lost sight of the value of the desert. We see emptiness and think we're missing something. In fact, we've come so far from the desert Fathers and Mothers, from Psalm 63, that we call the times when we cannot 'feel' or sense God and have no desire for Him as being in the desert. 180 degrees from what these early saints believed.
And they were convinced that there was something beautiful, something good, something lovely about brokenness. Far from eschewing it, early Christians recognized brokenness as a sign of Christ's presence, as a way that they could proclaim the gospel. That God loves enough to sometimes allow us to be broken--there is great love in this. Yes, I mean it, great love. I've said it before. And it's my one true thing.
I'm saying it again because I need to remember. I've been the one squandering my gifts lately. I've forgotten how much He loves me. I've been distracted by brokenness--by my own and by those who are broken around me--and I have not been seeking the only One who heals the broken-hearted. No, not just heals but redeems, restores, and ultimately makes new. That's a long way from simply healing.
It's a desert place I've been needing, I think. The last couple of months have been so crowded, and my spirit's been so jostled to and fro that, like the Master, I need to go out into the wilderness, into a desolate place and seek Him...have Him help me find myself again.
What do you do when you feel all crowded by the cares of life? Even good cares?