Straight from a Wandering Heart
By Lisa Elliott

I did a study of Luke 8:43-48 recently on the woman who had been dealing with an issue of blood for twelve years. It prompted me to ask myself the question, “What ‘issue’ have I been dealing with for the past twelve years?” What I discovered in this retrospective moment (and a moment was all it took to see my life flash before my eyes) was not just one but many issues. And that was an issue!

It was twelve years ago that we invited my mom to move in with our family to help support her and transition her into retirement. It was two short years later when our son was diagnosed with leukemia. A year later he was promoted to his heavenly home. Three years later we made a difficult ministry transition which presented us with unexpected challenges. Not to mention the already challenging phase of life I was in as a new empty nester in a pre-menopausal state.

It was also hard to wrap my head around the fact that not only were my 4 kids not joining us in this new season of ministry, but one of them would never again engage in our lives. Six weeks after our move, our oldest daughter was married in another province where my heart had to come to terms with the fact that she’d be planting herself there for the rest of her life. Two weeks after that our son was in a boating accident that nearly took the life of a twelve-year-old boy. Two weeks later my mother-in-law fell and broke her hip, which required my husband to make several 8-hour trips from where we lived to be with her. Two weeks later we were at her funeral. It just so happened that it fell on the same date our son’s court appearance was to take place. It also happened to be our youngest daughter’s 18th birthday.

The accumulative effect of all of these incidents found me in a cardiologist’s office and consequently led me into a depression. That depression was my companion for the next five years through a vast wilderness experience.

However, it was there in the middle of the wilderness that I met a woman in the Bible named, Hagar (Genesis 12 & 21). I reaped so much from getting to know her. She, too, had been blinded by her tears, blinded by resentment, blinded by disappointment, and nearly paralyzed by her past. She helped me to see the God who sees me as I opened my eyes and she pointed to an oasis in the middle of the desert. There she taught me not only how to survive, but thrive in the wilderness. Here are some wilderness survival tips I reaped from the hot desert sand:

  • Run to, not away from, God. – “Come near to God and he will come near to you” (James 4:8).
  • Be honest with yourself and with God. – “Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God” (Psalm 42:5).
  • Immerse yourself in the truth of God’s Word. – “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:5).
  • Take time to taste the tears. –“Record my misery; list my tears on your scroll; are they not in your record? ” Psalm 56:8.
  • Be quick to forgive, slow to trust, and slower to entrust. – “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord ” (Romans 12:18-19). “When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly” (1 Peter 2:23).
  • Reflect on God’s faithfulness. – “Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness” (Lamentations 3:21-23).
  • Surround yourself with people who will speak life into your heart. – “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching” (Hebrews 10:24-25).
  • Turn your misery into ministry. – “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God” (1 Corinthians 1:3-4).

The old Christmas Carol says, “I wonder as I wander out under the sky”. I wonder; who of you might be wandering in the desert about now? Let me assure you first of all, you’re not alone. And secondly, let me remind you that there’s so much beauty to be found in the desert. Sometimes we just have to dig a little deeper in the hot desert sand to find the buried treasures.

And I will give you treasures hidden in the darkness—secret riches. I will do this so you may know that I am the LORD, the God of Israel, the one who calls you by name” (Is. 45:3).

About this Contributor:

Lisa Elliott is an inspirational speaker and award-winning author of The Ben Ripple and Dancing in the Rain. Additionally, she has written articles for Just Between Us Magazine and devotionals for theStory. She and her pastor-husband, David, have four children (3 on earth, 1 in heaven) and serve the Lord together in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.

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