A quick read I devoured this week was one by Bianca Juárez Olthoff entitled Play With Fire: Discovering Fierce Faith, Unquenchable Passion, and a Life-Giving God. Whew. Go straight out, buy this book, and read it. Or ask to borrow my copy. The line forms here. :)
I spent the two days I read this book...whispering. Weeping. And blowing my nose. (I know. Not exactly attractive.) Couple this edifying read with the encouraging text conversation I had with Pastor Bob on Sunday after church, and I find myself in a new space. A new place. Gosh. I am so grateful for men and women of God whose writings, teachings, and proclamations inspire my spiritual growth. Or at least inspire me to pursue spiritual growth (I fail daily yielding thus).
Back to whispering. I’ve been doing a lot of it lately. To God. Correction. To the Holy Spirit. I have only this week begun to pray to the Holy Spirit. You see, I’d never done it before. It was always to God, the Father and Creator of the universe (Genesis 1:1) and to Jesus Christ, the Son and Savior of the world (1 John 4:14). But this week, it’s been to the Holy Spirit, the Comforter and Governor of life and peace (Romans 8:6). (I learned about addressing the Holy Spirit in a book we read together at JCC but only just tried it this week. I remember thinking when I first read the suggestion to pray to the Holy Spirit That’s weird [but interesting] to pray to the Holy Spirit as much as to the Other Persons of the Trinity.) Have you done that? Prayed to the Holy Spirit? Addressed the Holy Spirit as the Person He is? I think I rather considered the Holy Spirit something that indwells me but as a mystical sort of being. Which, I suppose He is. But not necessarily as One to Whom I should pray. However, that does not mean He does not deserve the attention I pay the Other Persons of the Trinity. After all, the Holy Spirit intercedes for me always (Romans 8:26-27).
It was a bit...embarrassing...awkward...to whisper to the Holy Spirit at first, actually. Perhaps because I knew I had never acknowledged or addressed Him in this way before, and I was a little shy. Further, I was a bit...intimidated...uncomfortable. I felt like...a little girl. Which, as you know, Jesus Christ said we should become as children or we will not enter the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 18:3-4).
What’s my point, you ask? What does all of this have to do with this post’s title and my opening book reference? Glad you asked. Bianca helped me embrace the importance of my desert dwelling. What? Kimberly inhabits a desert, you wonder? No. I live in the Midwest. In northern Illinois. But I currently reside in a desert, albeit not a literal one. A figurative one. A spiritual one. One in which I whisper to my God. My Jesus. My Holy Spirit. For His insight. For His wisdom. For His healing. For His peace.
Bianca taught me in her book that “it is not until I am in the desert and He shows up and responds that I am thus employed with one job: to worship Him.” Bianca further explained that some of her “deepest and most heartfelt prayers, laments, and sob-fests came from [her] desert of loneliness” and that she “called out to God because only He could hear and heal. Only He could change [her] in the midst of the pain. Only He could teach [her] how to worship in the desert.”
Friend, are you, too, in a desert place? Do you feel isolated like me when each time you approach an oasis, it ends up being a mere mirage? Are you, as I am, trying to wait upon the Lord so He will renew your strength and mount you up with wings as eagles? And are you likewise trying to run and not be weary and to walk and not faint? (Isaiah 40:31) Do you find yourself whispering like me? What’s that? Did I hear you whisper a Yes? Then, Friend, I am going to trust that we are precisely in the place we are supposed to be. It’s only here in the desert, as Bianca says, that we can truly learn to worship God the Sovereign as a result of Him showing up and responding to us. And Friend, He does show up and respond to us. Or He will. In His time.
It’s as we traverse this desolate, disheartening desert that we learn to trust in Him because His promises for us are true in Christ Jesus. We will joyously proclaim “Amen” as He tells us “Yes” (2 Corinthians 1:20) because we know that the Holy Spirit hears our humble, hushed whispers and subsequently heals our destitute, desperate hearts.
Take a listen to “Yes and Amen” by Bethel and Housefires: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wP3FibRWhVo
Let us whisper it together in reverence and worship: Yes and amen.
Kimberly S. Lancaster
July 5, 2017