Have you ever felt like you're in a spiritual desert? I have. It's a place where things seem dry and lifeless... no growth, no joy, the scenery surrounding you is just "same 'o, same 'o", and you can't see any signs of hope for a change on the horizon.
I found myself in that place suddenly after what felt like a huge growth spurt in my walk with the Lord. I didn't understand it. In fact, I couldn't even describe this foreign place I was in. That is, until I was called upon to stand and worship the Lord in this place. Easy right? Well, easier said than done became my reality.
I opened my mouth to sing, but quickly realized it was just 'lip service'. I wanted to raise my hands, but they wouldn't budge. Pray? Well, it felt like I was talking to a wall. "What's going on?", I thought... "Why is this so hard to do?"... "I don't understand." I called on my husband (literally, I called him on the phone) to take me before the Lord. I had finally put my feelings into words. I had lost my joy... and I didn't know how to find it! *sigh*
I was at a women's conference, and my sister-in-law was there too with some different people. I knew she was in the room, but we weren't sitting together. I immediately called her cell, "Can you meet me somewhere and pray over me?" She obliged and the events that followed could be none other than God himself speaking to me.
I went from being almost emotionless to a complete basket case! The floodgates of my tear ducts had been opened, and because of this, I couldn't hear much of her prayer except, "Lord, let this time be a sacrifice of praise for Jennifer". It was as if the Lord resounded that statement in my heart like an earthquake!
After the prayer, I went back to my seat and opened the Word to hear more from the Lord. I just opened my Bible and did the whole, "Ok God, speak to me miraculously" thing. I know, seems a little lame, but that was me in my very fragile state. So, I apparently turned to 1 Chronicles 16. "Huh? 1 Chronicles??... Really God?" He resounded "YES!"... "Just listen to my voice." So I did...
What he wanted me to hear was King David's first psalm of worship to the Lord (vs. 8-36) after he had the ark of the covenant brought back to Jerusalem (God's presence returning to His people). Verse 29 created an aftershock to the previous earthquake that took place in my heart, "Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name; bring an offering and come before him! Worship the Lord in the splendor of holiness..."
It was suddenly crystal clear. Whether I felt like it or not, God was calling me to worship Him for WHO He is because He is worthy of it! He was calling me to a 'sacrifice of praise'... sacrifice the feelings of my flesh and praise Him for all He has done, for His power, His majesty, His creation, for giving me life, a husband, children, most importantly salvation through His son, Jesus Christ.
I obeyed. At first, my feelings didn't match my actions, but as I pressed through, the weight became lighter and lighter... I began to feel freedom instead of captivity. I had been in the desert. It was in the desert that the Lord came to meet me. He satisfied my thirst with the Water of the Word. He changed my perspective and suddenly I could, once again, see hope on the horizon... hope of an eternal destination where there will be no more pain, fears, or tears. A place where there will be unceasing worship of the One who is worthy of all praise.
A favorite song of mine and my children now have deeper meaning when we sing it. "This is my prayer in the desert. When all that's within me feels dry. This is my prayer in my hunger and need. My God is the God who provides... I will bring praise, I will bring praise. No weapon formed against me shall remain! I will rejoice, I will declare 'God is my victory and He is here'... All of my life, in every season You are still God. I have a reason to sing. I have a reason to worship!"
If you find yourself in a spiritual desert, make a 'sacrifice of praise' to the Lord. He desires to meet you there and bring you up out of the muck and mire to a place of freedom in Him.