How You Can Find Encouragement in the Middle of Your Desert

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One early autumn afternoon, I was invited to a delightful luncheon in a Southern city in which I was speaking. We met at a quiet restaurant and sat at a large table.

When my hosts and I arrived at the restaurant, we were surprised to be greeted by a wonderfully creative woman who had reached the restaurant before us. She had brought a gorgeous flowing vine from her garden. The stems and leaves of the vine were long-reaching and filled the entire table at which we sat. It went from one end of the table to the other and streamed down the sides.

Our artistic friend explained that she had brought this effusive trailing plant to the luncheon because its flowers only bloomed one day a year. Since this was the day they had decided to blossom, she didn't want to miss it! So she had cut off long sections of the creeping, flowering greenery, placed it in several different jars of water, and then brought it with her. (And yes, in case you are wondering, it was more than just a little strange.)

We found ourselves gently placing the shoots and leaves of the trailing plant to one side of our plates so that they didn't mix with our food.

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Now, let me assure you that the blossoms were utterly beautiful. However, I couldn't help but think, What a waste! I would never want to be a flower that only bloomed once a year! Oh! How I want to be the type of flower that blooms 365 days a year not once every 365 days!

I long to live a life of irrepressible hope and unquenchable joy. I believe that the Lord deeply desires for the fruit of our lives to be glorious and stunningly apparent in all seasons, in all conditions, in all situations, and in all climates. Nothing, absolutely nothing, should render us fruitless or barren.

You, my friend, were meant to bloom without ceasing. The glory of your life is not determined by storms, climate, soil or the geography of your life experience. The glory of your life is determined by Him!

For the Lord shall comfort Zion, He will comfort all her waste places; He will make her wilderness like Eden, and her desert like the garden of the Lord; joy and gladness shall be found in it, thanksgiving, and the voice of melody" (Isa. 51:3).

The beauty of this Scripture is so stirring that it causes my heart to ache with inexpressible hope. We serve the God of all comfort, who takes pleasure in comforting His people. When you are in a barren or dry season in life, He comes to you—not to accuse or condemn, but to comfort you. He comes to whisper reassuring words in your ears and to place His loving arms around you. He wipes away your tears and heals the broken places in you.

What you suppose is a season of waste in your life, He can turn into a lush and prolific garden filled with delicious fruit and exotic flowers. He can take the driest, most arid season of your entire life and turn it into a place where you and He fellowship together intimately. His garden is not only beautiful, it is also the place of sweet companionship with your Savior.

You may think that you are forgotten in the wilderness and are withered in the desert, but when He arrives, so does joy. In His presence "is fullness of joy" (Ps. 16:11b); you don't get Him without joy, and you don't get joy without Him. What a precious promise!

The climate of your life is revolutionized and transformed by His presence and the gladness that He brings with Him. In the desert of your life, the sound is lyrical and symphonic.

The song that He gives drowns out the howling winds of misfortune and the echoing growls of the gathering beasts. He gives a perpetual melody that is not silenced by pain, by storms, or by threats. His melody prevails in you!

Carol McLeod is an author and popular speaker at women's conferences and retreats, where she teaches the Word of God with great joy and enthusiasm. Carol encourages and empowers women with passionate and practical, biblical messages mixed with her own special brand of hope and humor. Carol has written 11 books, including Significant, StormProof and Guide Your Mind, Guard Your Heart, Grace Your Tongue. Her teaching DVD, The Rooms of a Woman's Heart won the Telly Award, a prestigious industry award for excellence in religious programming.

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