Personal Challenge #13 The Desert, Part 1

You, God, are my God,
earnestly I seek you;
I thirst for you,
my whole being longs for you,
in a dry and parched land
where there is no water.
I have seen you in the sanctuary
and beheld your power and your glory.
Because your love is better than life,
my lips will glorify you.
I will praise you as long as I live,
and in your name I will lift up my hands.
I will be fully satisfied as with the richest of foods;
with singing lips my mouth will praise you.
On my bed I remember you;
I think of you through the watches of the night.
Because you are my help,
I sing in the shadow of your wings.
I cling to you;
your right hand upholds me.
Psalm 63:1-8

The Lord will guide you always;
he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land
and will strengthen your frame.
You will be like a well-watered garden,
like a spring whose waters never fail.
Isaiah 58:1

“… and was led by the Spirit in the desert”
Luke 4:1b

The Desert is where I learned to stand ALONE. 

I had put a lot of expectations on my surrounding community to be everything I needed for life as a single. Before that could happen, God removed me, in His grace and wisdom, so I could get the order right. He is first. People are second.

Journal Entry, Age 32
I’ve always turned to people for emotional needs, and when no one was around, I turned to escape, turned within myself and hid away in sadness.
But Jesus, You’re the only One who can fill my heart. Are you keeping me alone now until I make You Lord in my heart? Until I know You first? The hardest thing for me now is time alone with You.

Journal Entry, Age 33
I know Your Goodness. I know Your Care. But Your Love…. this one I’m still learning….
It’s that internal one… the attribute of You that goes to the inner-most parts. The deep, hidden part of me. The most vulnerable. The place where I am me – Rae-Anna. No pretense. No shell. No clothing. No defense. No barrier. No under-exaggeration. No holding back to protect other’s feelings. You know me in that place and You love me. I am loveable. Even in that core.

“Come away, my beloved.”
Song of Songs 8:14

He called me out into a desert (season) to be alone with Him. He brought a time where all I had was Him. I went into the season resisting aloneness with Him. I kept filling my time with friends and busy work, afraid of being alone for too long, afraid to feel loneliness.
“I don’t want to be alone, I don’t want to be alone. Jesus is great, but I NEED someone that I can actually see.”

I remember the day I surrendered. I was supposed to meet my friends at the beach a few hours away. I put the address into my GoogleMaps and set out. When I arrived, my friends were nowhere to be found. After calling them, it turned out I had typed the correct name, but the wrong area and I was a few hours away from where they were. After processing what happened, I realized that in a sense, Jesus had been asking me to come away with Him, and I had been resisting, and He was using this opportunity where I was all alone hours away from home, hours away from friends to show His love to me. That began the season where He became first place in my heart.

Turn to me and be gracious to me, for I am lonely and afflicted. Psalm 25:16

June 12
How long will You take me into the wilderness, literally alone?
Not forever, but for a season.
Those married people never had to do this.
They’ve each been on their own journey with Me.
I’ve been brought so low. Never imagined this was coming.
I’m with you through it all. When you walk through the fire you will not be burned. You are being refined, Rae-Anna.

June 25
Fill my sadness and my longing. I’m so sad in my aloneness.
When I feel that heart-crushing sense of loneliness, push into Him. God really wants me to go to Him with my loneliness. As a general practice, not occasionally. He longs to fill me.

Maybe one of the hardest things about the wilderness is you don’t know how long you’ll be in it. But I know You led me here and You won’t leave me alone in it – You’re always with me – and You will bring me through it.
And there is water to be found in this wilderness. There is a well.
Sing, even in the barren desert.
Why a desert now? I’m so alone. What is so wrong with me that You’re singling me out to break me so much.
Jesus was brought to the desert. Led by the Holy Spirit (Luke 4:1).
God wants to prepare me more. It’s an honor to be drawn into the desert. It’s relational – being led by His Spirit.

Desert – Day One
Laying down into Your hands, everything that I hold dear.
(List of 27 things!)

Desert – Day Two
I feel that there is necessity in this time of having no community for a season – feeling that loneliness. Just like Jesus felt hunger in Luke 4:2.
Rae-Anna does not live on community alone, but first she lives on the relationship with her God – intimacy in the secret place with her God.
“Just trust me with your fears. Lay down your offenses.”

August 24
You alone are God – there is no other.
How long will this aloneness continue?
Help me not say like the Israelites said, “Did you bring me out here only to let me die?” I followed you here. I know this is a refining season. Please complete all that You will in this season. Even Jesus didn’t want to suffer, but ultimately He said, “Not my will but Yours be done.”

August 30
That I would prioritize relationship with You over all relationships.

August 31
This desert season is getting to that raw, stripped back place where all I can feel is You and me. My heart is exposed and everything is coming to the surface.
Everything was removed from me, but it drove me to You.

I’m 100% alone. Did You bring me out here to abandon me? Or did You bring me out here to lead me tenderly into a place of deeper love and to strengthen me…

Don’t look around because it’s just desert! Keep your eyes fixed on God! Find His words to respond to discouragement and fear-based thoughts!

You never deny hunger. You will always meet us. And feed us. Let these fasting days teach me something about hunger. Let my hunger break down any and every obstacle and denial and offense.

How long, Lord? Will you forget me forever?
How long will you hide your face from me?
How long must I wrestle with my thoughts
and day after day have sorrow in my heart?
How long will my enemy triumph over me?
Look on me and answer, Lord my God.
Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep in death,
and my enemy will say, “I have overcome him,”
and my foes will rejoice when I fall.
But I trust in your unfailing love;
my heart rejoices in your salvation.
I will sing the Lord’s praise,
for he has been good to me.
Psalm 13

Listen to my prayer, O God,
do not ignore my plea;
hear me and answer me.
My thoughts trouble me and I am distraught
because of what my enemy is saying,
because of the threats of the wicked;
for they bring down suffering on me
and assail me in their anger.
My heart is in anguish within me;
the terrors of death have fallen on me.
Fear and trembling have beset me;
horror has overwhelmed me.
I said, “Oh, that I had the wings of a dove!
I would fly away and be at rest.
I would flee far away
and stay in the desert;
I would hurry to my place of shelter,
far from the tempest and storm.”
But I call to God, and the Lord saves me.
Evening, morning and noon I cry out in distress, and He hears my voice.
He ransoms me unharmed from the battle waged against me, even though many oppose me.
Cast your cares on the LORD and He will sustain you; He will never let the righteous fall.
But as for me, I trust in You.
Psalm 55:1-8;16-18;22;23b

Personal Challenge:
1. What do you thirst for? What are some of your soul’s needs? What are some of your heart’s needs? How have you tried to fill these needs so far in your life? Do you know that each of your needs can be met in Jesus? Consider how that would look. We were all designed with needs of our soul, needs of our heart. Many try to satisfy those needs with water that leaves them still thirsting.

2. Are you feeling stuck on the ‘physical plane’ – thirsting for things in the physical realm to fill you? I would say that fasting in the area of my sex drive helped me move beyond the physical, move beyond hearing my flesh cry out and answering its call. Fasting in the physical realm to move into having our needs met in the spiritual realm, and our physical needs would also be met. What is the thing that you have turned to in those brief moments before you would see Jesus, robbing yourself of waiting it out for the only one who can truly satisfy? What if you fast this? And feel that incredible discomfort of feeling like you have NOTHING. But endure that, just for a moment, and see what you find.