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wasteland

“Some wandered in desert wastelands,
    . . . hungry and thirsty,
    and their lives ebbed away.
Then they cried out to the Lord . . .
    and he delivered them . . .
 Let them give thanks to the Lord  . . .
 for he satisfies the thirsty
    and fills the hungry with good things” (Psalm 107:4-9).

Fear clinches her stomach. Emptiness rises like bile to burn in her chest. She staggers through weeks and months as if trudging across endless sand dunes. Daily stress rises to sear her skin like desert sun rays. As she parts her lips, the dry world of her wasteland burns into her throat. With a gasping plea, she at last musters a simple prayer. Help me, Lord.

The blaze persists. Dunes still overwhelm the view. Yet, her escape has begun.

She wriggles outstretched fingers toward the sand-walled horizon, anticipating mist from an unseen waterfall. With a dry, cracked hand, she picks up a branch for a staff. Peace floods into her spirit, soothing away the thirst of emptiness and fear. Her pace quickens. She might not sprint, but she now marches. To the streams she knows from within her. Where answered prayers have begun to lead her onward.

Ever felt lost in the wasteland? Hunger and thirst roil from physical needs, spiritual angst, or both. From health problems or financial devastation to inner storms of depression and stress, life can leave us feeling stranded in a desert-like existence. When despair overwhelms us, we recognize our inability to escape on our own strength. We can either succumb to its ravages or cry to the Lord for help.

A heartfelt prayer, no matter how simple or weak, vaults to heaven. God hears. And the escape begins.

The wasteland will not vanish in a moment, but you will gain resources to sustain you. Peace and hope nourish the soul, equipping you to march toward something beyond your view. A fresh draft of God-supplied faith empowers you to take the next steps. The cross beam becomes a staff to steady you on the way to fulfilled hope. God’s answer to your prayer for rescue has come, even as you await the answer of full deliverance.

Our miraculous answer to prayer is thriving, not only after our deliverance from the wasteland, but also during the journey of our escape.

What’s your miraculous answer to prayer today?

cactus (2)

My childhood days at the beach included wading as far into the ocean as my tiptoes allowed. My father, brother, and I peered across the glimmering water’s surface toward the oncoming swells. We sprang over mild waves, sharing a grin between them. Moderate heights demanded a bit more focus for a moment, but we took time between body surfing them to relate. A few swells hid among the ordinary ones, surging above our heads when we least expected them. Those giant waves overwhelmed us. We sputtered and flailed through. We prayed for a break between waves, the merciful sun to greet us when we surfaced. We didn’t have the equipment or expertise to handle them.

Only a real surfer could take the big waves.

I watch real surfers with admiration. They glide through tubes of water, skimming and swerving along the sunkissed ocean as if dancing on cerulean glass. I sigh and wonder how delightful it would be to possess such grace. I lack balance, and have struggled with rhythm and poise since youth. Teetering upon a surfboard never seemed like a natural talent my feet could perform.

Surfers train themselves to balance on their boards, then face the waves with sure footing. Some take on giant swells over seventy feet high. They don’t freak and head for shore when the water gets rough. The bigger the wave, the greater the sense of victory.

I venture into the ocean less and less, preferring to gaze at it from the beach these days. Other waves pummel me, however. Lifewaves range from tiptoe-jump distractions to rogue events swelling over my head. Sometimes I have no time to catch my breath between them. If I don’t stay balanced on my  supportive lifeboard, the waves will overwhelm me. Without balance and the right equipment, I’ll drown.

Did I mention my lack of balance? I did not enter the world with a surfboard in hand, either. An awkward soul like me needs constant training from her Coach. I must show up for workouts every day without fail, letting Him guide me toward success. He provides the wooden cross to float me over certain destruction I’d meet on my own strength. I can only jump so high without help, and big waves come to us all. It doesn’t take much to overwhelm me, a fact I can attest to with recent experience. I forgot to trust His support under my feet. If I had reacted like a real surfer, the board and I would move like a unit.

When lifewaves come, I need to remember my Coach’s words and glide united with the cross in confidence. If I resolve to life like a faithful surfant, waves will only testify to His power. The bigger the wave, the greater the victory.

How about you? Are you fed up with trying to body surf through life on your own strength, too?  Consider getting together with the Coach and taking up His board. Check out Romans for a starting place in your training guide. Catching the waves instead of letting them catch you is, after all, a matter of surfvival.