I mentioned before that I am in what was once known as the the Great American Desert to the early explorers, the Sandhills of Nebraska. This is where I grew up. This is where I learned to ride a horse, shoot clay pigeons, drive a tractor, and back up a trailer. In the middle of the sandhills, miles and miles from the nearest town is where I also learned the value of "quiet times" with God. If there is anywhere on God's green earth that could supply peace and quiet in abundance it would be here.
I've always been an avid reader, so I guess it's no surprise that I loved to read the Bible. I loved the stories, the excitement, the truth, the relevance, but most of all I loved hearing God speak to my heart through its pages. When you're in the middle of nowhere, in a "desert", if you will, it almost seems as if the quiet leads you to God, and if you're listening you almost always hear Him.
I didn't always appreciate my "desert", though. I felt isolated from the rest of the world, in a way. Living on the ranch, miles and miles from friends, made it difficult sometimes to hang out with them as often as I wanted to. There were times the silence bored me to tears and loneliness ate at me. There were times I wondered what I was doing in this "desert" and when my real life was going to start.
Looking back, though, I wouldn't have traded my "desert" for anywhere else in the world. It was exactly where God wanted me. It was where I developed a relationship with Him that has anchored me through every storm. He became my closest friend, my strongest ally, my dearest Savior. I remember dancing in the meadow behind our house, singing to Him at the top of my lungs, nothing but blue sky and green grass for as far as I could see, but closer to Heaven than I've ever been. He was my only audience, but He let me know He was enthralled.
A couple weeks before I left to visit Nebraska (and at the time I didn't even know I would be making the trip), God reminded me of those moments in the meadow. I was at my church's women's retreat and the speaker there shared a verse that spoke straight to my heart. In it, God is speaking to the Children of Israel:
"Therefore I am now going to allure her; I will lead her into the desert and speak tenderly to her.
There I will give her back her vineyards, and will make the Valley of Achor [Valley of Trouble] a door of hope. There she will sing as in the days of her youth, as in the day she came up out of Egypt." -Hosea 2: 14-15
He has led me back to the desert. And why? To speak tenderly to me. To remind me of the journey that I am on with Him. There always will be "deserts" in our lives, dry places that we see no end to and no way out of. There may be times when loneliness is our closest neighbor. But in those times, He offers us hope. We are only passing through. He will give us back our vineyards. I hear that tender voice of His telling me that although I may be in a desert, that I must sing my way through.
Whether in the desert or in the valley, I want to my life to sing for Him, my one and only enraptured audience.