When God Brings You Into a Desert {part 3}

{part 1} and {part 2} tell the story (1) of how and why God brought me to live for almost three years in the rural farmland of Belgium, (2) of my confrontation with Myself and God, and (3) of the not-so-subtle temptations I had to surrender at the Cross.

My story continues here.


Standing in the Sanctuary, I was numb. The Christmas holiday was in full swing. I knew that I was supposed to feel something…anything in response to the festivities of the season. But, I didn’t.


I had disciplined myself with expert care. The fortress guarding my soul was locked tight and nothing was capable of penetrating.  The fallout was that my feelings were shackled and muted, too.

My conversations with God were in full swing.  Once I surrendered to the fact that God was capable of handling and tolerating my negative emotions, the floodgates opened, and I was free to express my true, authentic, raw self.

For the most part, I talked and He listened.

I was ranting and raving from the depths of my soul, trembling in anger at Him, hardly believing that He was truly the loving God He claimed to be.

But, I hadn’t been struck by lightening, yet. It was becoming clear to me that He was bearing my anger and loving me anyway.

Then the question came, the question that unlocked my soul and brought the walls of my fortress crashing to the ground…

“How have you recently experienced intimacy with God?”

Ha! In the silence of the Sanctuary, I think I may have actually chuckled or smirked, because the reality of it was, I hadn’t felt intimacy with Christ in almost five years. I couldn’t answer the question…

But, I wanted to be able to. I desperately wanted to have an honest, truthful answer.

So, with some fear and trembling, I handed God the key to my mighty fortress.

“Lord, I will do whatever it takes to feel intimacy with you, again.”


I said it. 

I meant it. 

Whatever it takes.

God was listening. 

And, He had an answer for me.

As I walked under the doorway of the sanctuary exiting the room, within that archway, I heard Him speak to me.

I hadn’t heard his voice for so long, I nearly dismissed it.

“Jana, you need to tell your story.”

My heart quickened, my hands began to shake, I looked around as if Christ were standing right there.

But, I had heard him, 

and He was perfectly clear.

“Jana, you need to tell your story.”

“Do you mean right now, God? Am I supposed to walk into the fellowship hall where women are gathering and stop everything to tell my story, to show them the real me, not the pretend me that I have been desperately trying to hide behind?”

I almost did. I almost couldn’t stop myself from telling my story right then. But, I knew I must wait for the appropriate time.

The conversation had only just begun. You see, now I was listening. I had stopped talking long enough to listen.

And…God was speaking. 

The walls of my fortress disintegrated, once and for all. God, through the Holy Spirit, gave me the words I was to speak, the scriptures I was to reference, and the appropriate time for sharing my story with a group of women I had been worshipping with since arriving in Belgium.

By obediently telling my story, I was able to finally remove my mask of perfection, let go of the feelings locked deep inside, and admit the truth – that I was failing miserably at managing my grief, and I needed my Savior’s help.

As I emptied myself of bitterness, anger, and self-pity, He filled me with the fruits of His Spirit – love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.

God is the source of Living Water, a well that will never run dry.


Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water.” (John 4:10)

Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’” (John 7:38)


I began to walk a new road. A road that led to




I had been given a command, I was to tell my story.

My story was no longer my own to hold tight and keep private. God was asking for my obedience. He required me to step out in faith no matter how scared or vulnerable I felt. I had to trust Him.

I am so glad I did, for I had no idea how God was going to use my story to honor Him and to give Him glory.

He did then, and continues to do so now.


In her epilogue, Alicia Britt Chole says this, “We are stewards, not owners, of the fruit he cultivates in our lives. Ultimately, that fruitfulness is to be given away in his Name, not hoarded and displayed for our own glory”. (anonymous: Jesus’ hidden years…and yours, pp. 180)


I pray that I am freely giving away the fruit he has given to me along my journey through grief. I pray that I will be a good steward of all He has gifted me, and that my life will glorify Him and not myself. It is my deepest desire to serve Him, only.

newly purposed,



This post first appeared at Finding Purpose in the Pain where I am a contributing writer.

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