The seeming emptiness of the desert draws me in. Its wildness creates a curiosity within me and makes me feel as if I can just be right there with it, as I am. The vast, barren space of dry, cracked rock crumbles as it grows and forms, allowing new fissures to spread and become unexpected places of life. Seeds that take root in these cracks surprise, thriving in their place of brokenness. This design of broken beauty, of life within a space where barrenness is expected, connects me to the desert.
Like the dryness in the desert land, death created a deep fissure within me, where all I could see was a growing enslavement to fear. This fracture of death began in my childhood. It was an internal death, an expiring of trust and safety in a home where anger was pervasive and abusive. Death deepened its crack when we lost our first and third babies. The fissure split open when my mother was diagnosed and passed away from cancer within six months. It plowed further still when post-partum depression settled in, and I could not recall my daughter’s first year of life.
Death swallowed me whole when my sister nearly bled to death, giving birth to her son, who died at thirty-eight weeks old. Fear filled the cavernous cleft, and rather than fear Jesus, I feared every lie that was planted. All I could see at twenty-eight years old was destruction and darkness, and I raged against God. Death had split me wide open, and I was furious at Him for not preventing it.
I questioned and accused God. I swore at Him, screaming, “You’re not worth it!” I stopped fearing the only One I should have feared, and out of my rage I began to protect myself by building a wall that would guarantee my safety and comfort. I was unaware that as I laid stone upon stone around myself, I was burying myself further into darkness, shackling myself to my fears, just like the woman at the well.
In John 4, we meet a Samaritan woman who designed her life around avoiding other women. She tried to fill her cavernous void with men, building walls of protection around herself to prevent being known or seen by the women who rejected her. She attempted to satisfy her thirst all on her own, but Jesus saw her emptiness and offered Himself as her Living Water.
God is and has always been a God of liberation. His love plants hope and freedom where only darkness and death are expected. God saw the lies I was living for, the prison I was building around myself, and His faithful love came after me.
He pursued me as He did the Samaritan woman. In the very midst of my sin of hating God, Unending Love smashed my suffocating fortress, digging out the false fears that had grown deep and strong in my valley of death. I felt split into a thousand shards, terrified of the emptiness around me, but even so, I was not done rejecting Him.
I didn’t submit to Jesus when He began His redemptive work in me. Instead, I actively buried myself in the ruins of what I had built around me, trying to hide from God as a way of giving Him the middle finger. I chose to choke on the dust rather than risk God again, yet His love still pursued me.
When Jesus spoke the words, “I am He,” to the woman, she finally recognized Him as the One who could fill her void. She was safely known by Him. The barrenness and brokenness that kept her in fear of the people around her became the very space she met Jesus. It was there that she was cracked wide open, and peace and freedom blossomed in her.
When God crushes, He crushes to redeem — not to harm. God removed for me what I could not. He did not remove the fissures of death I so desperately demanded. Instead, He pursued me in the darkness. He did the miracle of removing sin and planting hope and peace in my valley of death. When God reclaims our deepest fractures, they become places of endless and true worship, where our thirst is quenched in the exact place it began to bleed dry.
The unexpected life that grows from the desert in our lives is seeing God, His worth, and the goodness He has in store for us even in the midst of death. I have experienced His faithful love even when I had once denied it, and life springs forth from the cracks that death caused like an oasis in the desert.
Michele Morin says
For most of 2018, I’ve been reading in the book of Jeremiah. His entire ministry happened in a wasteland, and yet he faithfully delivered the message of judgment God put in his heart. There’s a certain kind of faithfulness that is birthed in the desert. Maybe it’s fueled by thirst, but it’s definitely nothing like what most of us picture as “the Christian life.”
Thank you, Megan, for this road map to the Oasis.
Yes, love your insight into faithfulness being birthed here in the desert. Thanks for sharing that.
This was a powerfully written piece. Thank you for sharing.
So glad it was powerful for you Adrienne. Xo
Hi Megan! This is so good. My all time favorite scripture passage is the woman at the well. It is layered, rich and deep. I happen to be studying the book of John and dwelled here several days this week. Though the details of my story are not like hers or even yours, it is my story as I know well the years of fear and wall building, as well as the rescue and transformation, and the redemption. Thank you for sharing!
Oh so good to hear. One piece of “heart”’I have for my writing is that the encouragement doesn’t come from my story being the same as yours, BUT the empathy and nearness we feel knowing God’s answers are the same for you and me.
Pearl Allard says
Megan, I love the imagery in your writing! One of my favorite trips was to Death Valley in college. I was shocked by how much life actually exists when you get out of the car and walk through it. So grateful with you that our brokenness does not ban Jesus from breaking down our barriers or birthing miracles. Thank you for sharing this very costly gem from your life!
Oh yournwords are so beautifully encouraging to me. Thank you.
Just wanted to say Thank you for rhe blesSING of your powerful and authentic testimony of your experience and sharing “the prison pain of your own desert”.
The best thing in the desert is not a thing… but a Person – the “I am He” who never will “desert” us in the desert. Not only does He not desert or abandon us…but He pursues us!
What an exquisite and Superb Saviour we can never fully comprehend, but we can savour our Saviour when we realize that we have and continue to experience Him in and throughout our pain- when we get to taste-test what He serves us …as you so beautifully & poignantly pronounced in your writing:
“…the unexpected life that grows from the desert in our lives is seeing God, His Worth, and the Goodness He has in store for us even in the midst of death “ .
This is the perplexing and Peace-filled Peace …The extravagant Grace we receive in the painful transformative process(es) of our lives.
Thank you for such a beautiful connection- I think it is so powerful that God says “I am He” to all of us.
I wanted to give you some song(s( to listen to – I hope the Spirit will sing over you to these songs .
Abundant blessings Megan and may Christ continue to give you the “Way in the wilderness and streams in the dry land”.
Jonathan David & Melissa Helser
– from “Beautiful Surrender” album
I love that couple! They sing about Christ with such organic grace and passion.
I hope the songs will be a part of your healing and grace journey.
Janine in Canada
Oh songs like these are what makemybheart beat wildly. Thank you for sharing them and your words with me. Truly
Yes…music actually really is the “language of the soul” (if it is honouring) ; God has lovingly met me and healed me through just some songs. I have a song pathway of healing – His tapestry of orchestral Majestic Maneuvres. I am so grateFULL for Christian music. I felt Jesus & His Spirit was sometimes singing with a quiet megaphone leading right into the cracked and splintered gaps of my heart. Here is another that made my toes tap and my heart sing the other day: “Farther Along” by Josh Garrels. I hope you will continue to be blessed through music and through the LivingWater that never deserts us in the parched periods of transformative Grace. Many blessings Megan!
Trista Costantino says
Thank you so much for sharing part of your story & being vulnerable on the page. You are a gifted writer and I so appreciate the truths you have shared.
This really spoke to my heart: “God is and has always been a God of liberation… she was cracked wide open, and peace and freedom blossomed in her.” After 4 years of really deep, spirit-filled counseling God is going even deeper with me. I know it’s not “to crush me” but to bring about more freedom & a closer relationship with Him. But it’s so hard and it’s a daily surrender to His path for me. “God, redeem all the years of suffering and brokenness in my life as well as in the lives of your daughters (and sons)!”
Megan, I pray that you are seeing His redemption more and more of all the pain you have been through. God bless you dear sister-in-Christ and I look forward to future posts from you.
So grateful to read your words. I’ve emailed you back with some more.