The early morning rays are the first to greet me as I open up the blinds, and let the once-dark living room gradually fill with light. The house is quiet except for the hissing and dripping of coffee into my mug and the faint cock-a-doodle-doo-ing from a few blocks away.
This early morning watch I resisted for so many years is now my holy leisure. By grace, I see and experience this quiet time with the Lord with new eyes. It’s no longer a box I dutifully check or a ritual I perform to earn his favor. This is my lifeline, tethering me to something solid and immovable when my world feels unstable and ever-shifting.
I show up sleepy but expectant to hear from him. On this caffeine-supported morning, by Providence, my eyes land here…
And the Lord will guide you continually and satisfy your desire in scorched places and make your bones strong; and you shall be like a watered garden, like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail.
I’m sure I’ve read that verse before, but I can’t remember where or when. These are precious jewels that must be carefully unpacked.
They speak to my current circumstances and beyond them too. Their promises are almost too good to be true, and so I read them again. It’s already a balm to my heart as I consider how the Lord promises direction when the way is unknown, spiritual strength when our bones are weak, and nourishment and refreshment when the landscape is dry.
A Monsoon of Christian Privilege
Having lived in the Southwest my whole life, I’ve seen the defiant desert bloom. I’ve marveled at how life not only carries on but flourishes, in these dry conditions. But in the summer months, just when you think the temperatures can’t get any worse, there’s mercy. In the afternoon, dark clouds gather and dump water on the cracked desert floor, bringing refreshment and new life.
Isaiah 58:11 is like a summer monsoon for the parched soul. Let these storm clouds of blessing and privilege break over your head too, dear Christian friend. May they flood you with peace and assurance that the LORD, Jehovah, wants to overwhelm you with his presence, satisfy your soul, and strengthen you in this desert place. These are the privileges I see.
Perpetual Guidance: “The Lord will guide you continually”
How many times have we been at a crossroads and not known which way to go? Two roads diverge into a wood, and we don’t know which one is more or less traveled by.
As we seek wisdom through prayer and wise counsel, sometimes the way to go remains unclear. What shall we do in this case? Stay connected to the vine and soon you’ll hear, “This is the way, walk in it.”
Charles Spurgeon said it best,
“Let the heart be constantly kept at the foot of the cross, and let the Holy Spirit bedew it with his sacred influence, and though we may for a little time, through our want of mental capacity, fail to understand the truth, it will not be for long. The Holy Spirit will lead us into all truth, and thus the text shall be fulfilled, ‘The Lord shall guide thee continually.’”
Soul Satisfaction: “and satisfy your desire in scorched places”
Do you feel the battle waging for your soul’s satisfaction? Proverbs 27:20 says, “Death and Destruction are never satisfied, and neither are human eyes” (NIV). It’s a good thing to have a happy and contented soul, for while its capacity is great for many things, only one thing truly satisfies.
This is a rich feast. “For he satisfies the longing soul, and the hungry soul he fills with good things” (Psalm 107:9).
Let your human eyes be subject to your spiritual ones. So many things promise to fill us up and provide us with satisfaction, but only God can fill our soul with what it really wants: communion with him.
Spiritual Strength: “and make your bones strong”
I’ve often wrongly assumed my trials would take more than they give. How often have I repeated worn-out lines that don’t reflect my experience? “I’m so tired and I’m so weary.” But these scorched places are the training ground to build the spiritual muscle I need.
The Christian’s bones, or inner strength, get stronger under pressure. We don’t raise our white flag and give up, but rather find more of his strength in the midst of our weakness (2 Cor 12:9). Strong bones give us a vitality that’s otherworldly to our experience. It’s then that we realize it’s been God strengthening us in these scorched places all along.
Flourishing Fruitfulness: “and you shall be like a watered garden”
Nothing is more opposite of a dry desert than a flourishing garden, but that’s the experience for the Christian. Our heavenly gardener is cultivating us into something fruitful and useful.
The gardener pulls weeds that don’t bear fruit. While this weeding is painful, we trust he’s working to beautify the garden of our souls. Flowers and fruit bloom in their season, and shade is provided for rest and relaxation in the well-watered and carefully tended garden.
Unfailing Supply: “like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail.”
Reservoirs need to be refilled, but springs are connected to a deeper, more abundant source of water. God supplies these hidden storehouses with water, and so he supplies living water for the Christian.
What is this source of his unending supply?
Jesus declared that he was this spring of living water. He said that the water he supplies springs up into eternal life (John 4:14). So why would we not take of this living water? This is an oasis for our weariness, and refreshment for our bones. The waters from this spring never end, never fail, and are always refreshing.
Refreshed at the well that never runs dry
I return to my open journal and write this verse out word for word.
The burdens of my heart, and the unanswered questions that had loomed so large just moments ago seem smaller now. The garden gates that have welcomed me to walk with him in the cool of the day, have swung open, and I’ve found refreshment at his well that never runs dry.
I’ll continue to wait for that still small voice that says, “This is the way, walk in it.” But as I do, I notice rain clouds forming outside my window. They’re getting ready to open up and unleash their life-giving water on this dry and thirsty land.
P.S. If you’re curious about what holy leisure is, or how you invite more of it into your life, I invite you to check out this resource.