JJ didn’t get the job. He had applied for a position as a supervisor within his company, and although the position would have required a relocation to Arizona, we didn’t care. As stressful as it would have been to try to sell our house and pack up and move, we welcomed the possibility.
The truth is, life here in El Paso has been somewhat difficult as of late. We like this city, but the circumstances we have faced over a little more than a year have made it hard for us to fully enjoy life here. We haven’t been able to be involved in the community as we would have liked, and recently I have had less opportunities to see the few friends I have due to some changes in their own lives and increased busyness on their part.
All of these factors, along with some issues JJ has been facing at work, made me think that it would be easier to just start over somewhere new.
The two of us were pretty disappointed to learn that JJ wasn’t chosen for the position. Being the optimist that he is, however, JJ bounced back quickly and reminded me that God is good and that we could trust that life was better for us here for the time being since this is where God had us.
It has taken me a bit longer to get over my own disappointment about the matter. I fully agree with JJ that God is not withholding goodness from us in keeping us here. At the same time, I’m having a hard time seeing that goodness in a phase of life that feels so stagnant.
I have been reading Priscilla Shirer’s book, One in a Million with a small group of women for the last few months, and it has been speaking to me loudly in the midst of these past few weeks.
The book in general talks about how God takes us through the wilderness at times to teach us to trust Him and to know Him more deeply. He is also able to shape us into the person He wants us to be through these experiences in the wilderness.
The most recent chapter I read distinguished between the wilderness and the desert. God doesn’t take us through the desert where no life can be sustained. Rather, He leads us through the wilderness where we can occasionally find moments of refreshment. These are the moments that keep us going and that build our trust in God a little more.
The literal wilderness I live in has been such a physical representation of the figurative one I have been going through as of late. But just as God has physically refreshed me in the midst of this wilderness of El Paso throughout my time living here, I have to remind myself of the ways He has been refreshing me through this spiritual and emotional wilderness as well. He has worked in ways that are undoubtedly His doing.
Sometimes it is only when we have no other option but to trust Him that we realize how trustworthy He is. He has been proving His faithfulness over and over to me by putting me in this wilderness journey where I have lacked the ability to come up with my own plans or resources to solve life’s problems. And the result of all that has been greater confidence in Him as He has solved them for me.
With shifts in friendships and less opportunity to make meaningful connections with the friends I have, I find myself wondering what God will do in this situation. How will He provide? From where will my next moment of refreshment come?
I don’t have answers to these questions, but I am hopeful.
Just yesterday I noticed that one of the palm trees in our front yard was growing a new leaf. Since it is exposed to the sun more than our other palm tree, and because we had a colder-than-usual winter this year, it was struggling to survive. Just last month, I had to cut off two or three of its dead branches and wondered all the while if I would ultimately have to uproot it because it had died. But yesterday, it showed new signs of life as the promise of spring lingered in the air.
My life has been like that palm tree in certain ways. I have been exposed to the elements and endured a harsh winter. Nonetheless, God is giving me hope for the spring and for new life, and I am ready to embrace those things. In the meantime, however, I don’t want to stop recognizing the moments of refreshment that God has given and will give me for however long my time in this wilderness lasts (both physically and metaphorically).
He is not withholding goodness from me. Perhaps I just need to remember the ways in which He hasn’t and open my eyes a little wider to see the ways in which He is showering me with it now, even in the midst of my wilderness experience.