Guest Post: When You Find Yourself In the Desert…

Throughout the month of November, I am going to introduce you to a few people who are incredibly dear to me. For the next four Mondays, I will be sharing the writing and thoughts of some of my friends on what it means to practice and live a life of gratitude. I am surrounded by incredible people who have journeyed up some tall mountains and maintained a spirit of gratitude the whole way. My hope is that we can learn from each other, even if the mountains you are traversing are much different than mine or those of my friends. 

On this first Monday in November, I have the privilege of introducing you to my sister-from-another-mother, Sarah. Sarah and I met when we attended the same middle school. After losing touch for several years through high school and college, our paths crossed again and we actually got to live together as roommates for two years in Indiana. Boy, do we have some history together! One of my favorite memories with Sarah was the time we opened a door. I’ll just leave it at that for now, but suffice it to say, home ownership as a single woman can be a ridiculously exciting, frustrating, hilarious experience. I was so thankful to have Sarah by my side in those few years I owned the little white house we affectionately dubbed “The Heath House.” Meet Sarah!

I am grateful for the arid places, the deserts of our faith that birth a greater thirst for the Living Water.

There’s a first time for everything, friends. Write a guest post? I still use an alias on my own blog. And to do so for a dear friend whose writing always blows me away—well. Gulp.

She asked for a piece around the idea of gratitude in the desert, a theme the two of us have discussed and lived together in all its various stages. And as I’ve thought about what to write, what to share, the importance of listening struck me as a pillar for gratitude. If we listen poorly and base our expectations on anything other than Truth, how can we ever expect to truly be grateful? Our expectation and reality will never align, and gratitude will be the hardest blessing to experience. I would love to write a beautiful post that simply inspires you, reader, but inspiration is not enough to make it through a season of dryness whatever yours may look like. I so greatly desire for you to move even the tiniest bit more out of the desert, that I earnestly challenge you to think about how you’re listening and even what you listen to.

I awoke the other morning at a decadently late hour to the quiet of a still house. I had time to take my coffee outside and drink it and the sunshine…it was glorious. The birds, too, thought this morning was something special and were positively going to town. My ears were the most awake part of me, and I sat there with my eyes closed, listening to their trilling voices and the tick-tick-tick-tick-tick of a squirrel using the fence as a highway.

Later in the morning I was listening to Rend Collective when suddenly one of the lyrics in My Lighthouse sounded off.

“My lighthouse, my lighthouse 
shining in the darkness, I will follow You
My lighthouse, my lighthouse
I will trust the promise
You will carry me straight to shore.”

Huh? That’s not what I remember. I waited to hear the chorus again.

“My lighthouse, my lighthouse
shining in the darkness, I will follow You
My lighthouse, my lighthouse
I will trust the promise
You will carry me safe to shore.”

Yep, that’s it! Whoa, what a different meaning those have!!

I misheard one word and the entire meaning changed. Had it said “straight,” it would have been very wrong—nowhere are we promised the direct, easy course in life, the straight path through or entirely avoiding the desert. In fact, the Bible is fairly clear that Christians should expect and be ready to encounter trials of all sorts.

What if, more critically than our ears, our hearts don’t hear accurately? What if we fuel our desires with misheard—or misunderstood— promises? What bitter pain we encounter in that place where our hearts hear only what they desire and none of God’s truth! From experience, I know the ugly selfishness, ingratitude, and anger that loves to grow in our sandy places of misbelief. It was not getting what I desired that brought me out of the desert; it was retuning my heart, mind, and ears, in Christian community and through personal work, that enabled me to see and be grateful for the beauty of the desert. Its beauty, rightfully seen, is one that leaves a lasting imprint on willing hearts.

I am grateful for the arid places, the deserts of our faith that birth a greater thirst for the Living Water. I want to intimately know my God and Creator, He who made all that is and was and is to come, and if that means trusting Him through and thanking Him for my time in the desert(s), well, how can my soul not sing?

“But as for me, I will always have hope;
I will praise you more and more.”
Psalm 71: 14


Sarah has many gifts and talents, but one of them is taking fantastic pictures of me. She also weaves (on an actual loom), has a beautiful passion for serving adults with special needs, and bakes the most delicious pies. Sarah left Indiana the same year I did and now resides in Oklahoma with her family and two puppies. (We won’t talk about it, but I’m pretty sure I got the better end of that deal, what with the mountains and all…). Find more of Sarah’s beautiful words and reflections on her personal blog HERE.

One thought on “Guest Post: When You Find Yourself In the Desert…

  1. Robin says:

    Thank you, Sarah and Abbey. I needed this reminder — worship through listening. Getting through life’s challenges by listening. Loving and serving by listening. Thank you.


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