The words to the song keep running through my mind today; “You make beautiful things out of dust.” They begin to sink in as I consider this desert. He makes beautiful things out of the dust of this place…
Often the wilderness feels like what it is, a solitary, lonely uninhabited, desolate place. Some days I look around and see the sand dunes that seem to go on forever. I begin to wonder if I will ever escape this setting. Will I ever see the fertile lands where milk and honey flow?
I’ve had opportunity to be in this setting for some time now. Tears have been a familiar companion at those times where the loneliness tries to suck me in. But here in this place Jesus has met me. For He understands the wilderness better than anyone. His journey took Him there too.
The Spirit of God led Him into the wilderness. Satan waited for Him there. He wanted to get Jesus to renounce what He believed. Instead Jesus connected in deeply with the truth.
The wasteland can have that effect. The vastness of it calls into question everything you have believed. It looks like you’ve been left to yourself. After all why would a God who loves to give good gifts lead anyone into this?
The barren lands have challenged me greater than any other time in my life. It’s where the rubber has met the road. Will I call good what God calls good even when it doesn’t look good? Will I believe that He is good apart from anything I see or don’t see? What is it I believe about Him anyways? And what about me, what does He think of me? What is the truth?
It’s easy to believe when living in the time of harvest. After all the fruit is everywhere for the picking. Something’s always ripe and ready to be enjoyed. But it’s the wilderness that allows the seed to find its home. Doubt allows me to wrestle with what I put my confidence in giving way for faith to grow. With each opportunity to believe the soil swallows the seed more fully allowing the roots to dig in deep.
Truth has to make its way in for freedom to be realized. It’s one thing to know it, it’s another to allow it to make its home in me. I’ve known a lot of truth through the years yet not much of it set me free. The past with all it’s garbage restrained me on the gerbil wheel of performance causing the words to miss their mark.
Jesus told those sitting around him that they would know the truth and it would bring them freedom. The idea of knowing is translated as the Jewish idiom for the intimate act of sex between a man and a woman. The truth is not just something I have knowledge of, it is something I must embrace as my own. I see it clearly now. This desolate place has given way for that.
The performance came to a halt. His voice started to become the voice in my head. He asked me to leave my past behind and receive the forgiveness He offered. I could not live in my present under the ties of my past. He invited me to embrace the identity He had bestowed on me. It was my own. He asked me to lay the work of my hands down and receive His in me. He is the author of life, the perfector, the finisher. He will complete what He has begun.
There is no other way to freedom than to embrace truth as my own. It is the path to life.
In the vastness of this desert I’ve begun to find my true self, the one that God made to be. In this place where all seems lost something magical is happening. He is making beautiful things out of dust.