Tuesday, September 8, 2009

A Barren Season

I heard and my heart pounded,
my lips quivered at the sound;
decay crept into my bones,
and my legs trembled.
Yet I will wait patiently for the day of calamity
to come on the nation invading us.

Though the fig tree does not bud
and there are no grapes on the vines,
though the olive crop fails
and the fields produce no food,
though there are no sheep in the pen
and no cattle in the stalls,
yet I will rejoice in the LORD,
I will be joyful in God my Savior.

The Sovereign LORD is my strength;
he makes my feet like the feet of a deer,
he enables me to go on the heights.

Habakkuk 3:16-19

In June, it was like a day of calamity was coming upon me. My health was failing, problems were surfacing in my relationship with the girls. I was entering in to a very tough season. God knew this, and graciously gave me a warning. While waiting for a doctor appointment and fighting to hide a panic attack from the others in the lobby, I read the above passage in Habakkuk.

I never knew prophets had panic attacks.

While meditating on the passage, God made clear that I too was about to enter a barren season. With health problems and deployment, I needed to let go of all my ambitions to take on projects. This was not easy to accept because I had big dreams of home renovations while Mark was away. But this call to accept a barren season came with a promise - a promise of joy despite the circumstances and the promise of the Lord lifting me up and setting me on the high places.

My conviction lasted about 2 days. Then out of discontentment and frustration I decided to prove that I really could handle it all. I would, in an amazing feat of military spouse strength, turn this barren season into an amazing show of my talents.

Now two months later, I see the foolishness of my ways. God warned of a barren season, but not a barren heart. The heart that pursues God and accepts the path ahead receives joy and is lifted up. But the heart who foolishly attempts to follow its own path and make its own way may be surrounded by accomplishment but is left with a barrenness of soul far more miserable than any circumstances can produce.

For my summer of effort I am left exhausted, surrounded by unfinished projects. And rather than joy, each of my accomplishments brings me nothing more than regret and frustration.

Thankfully, the Lord in His mercy, has allowed me to learn much from my rebellion. Now, rebellion may seem like a strong word to some. I mean, what did I do wrong? I worked on home improvements, bought things on discount, and paid cash for it all - so how can that be wrong? It was wrong because I knew it wasn't the right time to pursue such goals. So now begins the process of redemption. As I daily think about my choices and pursuits from this summer, and grieve, God continues to show me truth and refine my heart.

Thank you Lord that our joy does not have to be based on our circumstances. But thank you more Lord that when I try to change the circumstances, joy does not come. The joy of You is my strength. Do not let me be strong when I go my own way, please Lord, love me more than to allow me to have joy in my own path.

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