I was born in Orlando. I have never lived outside of the state of Florida. I love the beach, and even if I am unable to go as often as I would like, just knowing it is there is a comfort to my soul.
But life doesn’t always go according to what is comfortable does it?!
We have been away this week attending a conference with Tom’s work. And of all the wonderful places we could go, it’s in Arizona. The name itself means “Arid Zone,” which basically means D.R.Y. and H.O.T. This week the state has lived up to its name. The thermometer will climb to 105 today! I feel like a fish out of water. I’ve even taken a wet washcloth and placed it over my face so I could breath in the moisture. 🙂
Last Saturday we flew into Phoenix and rented a car. Some new friends we’ve made who share our love for godly marriages invited us to come to their home in Tucson for the night. We were very excited to finally meet Steve and Cindy Wright with Marriage Missions International, face to face. As we were driving though, it was through the desert. It was dry, hot, brown, full of cactus, and those unbelievable dust devils. Unlike anything in the Florida landscape.
I mentioned to Tom how I hoped God would help us see the beauty in the desert this week. It must be evident in some form or over 6 million people who call this state home wouldn’t live here. It was hard to believe that people could love this location as much as I love Florida, and that this is their comfort zone!
When I told Tom I wanted to see the beauty, I had no idea what God had in store.
From the moment Steve and Cindy welcomed us into their home, we talked endlessly about well, everything! And the more we talked the more we heard of the challenges they face day in and day out. Yet there was a smile on their face and peace in their heart that was surprising. Every word pointed to a Savior who lovingly cared for them through their difficulties. They had found beauty in the desert, and Tom and I were witnesses to the fact.
After we left their home, albeit sadly, we headed back to Phoenix with great anticipation of connecting with friends we’ve made in the industry over the past 3 decades. What we didn’t know was how many more stories we would hear of God’s faithfulness to the marriages of more dear friends.
Two couples met with us and shared their heartrending stories. Stories which included years where they didn’t think they would make it as they faced the death of a child, the divorce of a married child, the sickness of one or the other. We heard many ways God was using them to help others, and with each story tears welled up in our eyes. We were seeing the beauty of God’s amazing grace on display in the hearts of our friends. They had gone through the desert and found much beauty – the beauty that only Christ can supply.
All of this made my struggles of late insignificant, to say the least. The God who has brought beauty out of ashes to these precious couples, is the same God who is leading me.
We all face desert experiences from time to time. But most of us don’t live there. God allows us to return to our places of comfort. Yet I witnessed the beauty of couples who don’t care if they live in the desert forever, for their comfort isn’t found in the place where they live, but with the One to whom they belong.
This is beautiful indeed!
How are you experiencing the desert in your marriage? Have you found the beauty?