Naked in the Desert

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I’m sitting on my balcony, crying over a green juice and the faithfulness of God.

Don’t worry, I’m not normally this emotional over some cold-pressed broccoli and kale, but I’ve spent the last 21 days drinking only water and the occasional herbal tea.

Before you think I’m completely crazy, let me explain.

Three weeks ago in San Diego, I made a decision with the Lord. I was going to venture into the wilderness with Him. I wanted to pursue Him whole-heartedly and to build a foundation on which I could grow a deep relationship with Him. I don’t know that everyone needs to go to these measures to build that foundation; but I knew I needed to put aside the things that were distracting me from Him: food, social media, and entertainment.

And thus began the hardest three weeks I can remember.

From the beginning, I was plagued with doubts about whether or not I could even do this. Last time I tried to fast, I made it two days and then peaced out and ate a cheeseburger (side note: that’s super unhealthy… never fast for two days and then jump right in with a cheeseburger!).

My body was cleansing itself from toxins and I was miserable, and then I was bored by the taste of water, and then I began having vivid food dreams, and on and on it went. I was weak and wasn’t hanging out with many people, going to bed early and trying to pray and read my Bible in every moment when I would normally be eating or watching TV or hanging out with people.

But it was rough. Even with the support and prayers of the few people who knew what was going on, I still felt alone and afraid.

I felt naked in the desert.

There’s one morning in particular that I remember feeling this way. I was sure that I couldn’t do this another moment (much less another week!). But as I was crying, something broke and I began to share my heart in prayer. Things that I’ve closed the door on long ago, things that I’d forgotten about, dreams that I’d become disillusioned by. And as I stood there in my desert, open and vulnerable before my Creator, something changed. After that I began to crave time with Him. Prayer wasn’t something I just checked off my list, but I actually woke up wanting to talk to Him. That real relationship I had set out to find was beginning to form.

Don’t be fooled though. There were many days when I was hangry and didn’t feel the presence of God and had to force myself to open my Bible (there were also days that I didn’t open it at all). But there’s something beautiful and powerful in trusting God’s heart and intentions towards you even when your emotions and circumstances tell you differently.

I’m not telling you about this season to show off how spiritual I am or how much self control I have. I know myself well enough to know that I absolutely do not have the self control needed to make it through the last three weeks. But I’m telling you this to remind you that seeking God is a choice. I had to wake up every day and choose God. To choose to rely on His strength and on His grace to get me through that moment, that hour, that day, those weeks.

As my season in the wilderness has come to an end, I’ve had a new set of doubts. What if beginning to eat again undoes everything that I learned in this season? What if I just drift right back into my old habits and comforts?

I laid in bed for two hours this morning, afraid to get up and drink juice.

One of the beautiful things about this season in the wilderness is that it does have an ending. And I’m reminded that God isn’t only allowed to speak in the desert. He doesn’t stop working in my life just because I start eating again. But it is still my choice. I must choose to make Him a priority in my life, even when everything else is clamoring for my attention.

And to be honest, there will always be other things striving for first place. In seasons of plenty it’s easy to just focus on our own pleasure; and in seasons of scarcity it’s tempting to forget God in the midst of our pain.

So, no matter what this next season holds, whether wilderness or garden, let’s choose to turn to our Father. Because there is no taste in the world that can compare to His presence.

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Naked in the Desert

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