Imagine a barren land. The earth is dry, and cracked. Nothing grows there. There is no water. No life.
Now, imagine a beautiful land. It’s warm, the sun is shining down, warming your face. Green meadows, and forests, and flowers are springing up everywhere. Rivers, streams, and waterfalls. A place so alive, you can almost hear it growing.
Now, if I were to ask you: Which place would you rather live?
Who would choose the barren place?
Who would choose the beautiful place?
Of course, you’d choose the beautiful place!
It’s easy, right?
It’s easy when you are choosing a physical place. But not a spiritual place. Not when you are choosing it for your soul.
It wasn’t so simple for me. And…
I chose the barren place. I chose to make the desert my home.
I want to tell you the story, of my soul.
How my soul changed from barren…to beautiful.
It all started when…we wanted to have a baby.
We thought it would be so easy–we laughed about how easy it would be. And, I still remember, so naively, taking that first pregnancy test. I took it before work in the tiny bathroom of our first apartment. I didn’t know if I would shout through the bathroom door and say, “You’re a dad!” Or, “We’re gonna have a baby!”
But instead, after two long minutes, I was shocked when the test read: negative. And I didn’t say anything.
“It might just take a little longer for us,” my husband told me when I came out.
And he was right.
Month after month. We tried. We waited. We prayed.
And then my period came. And I cried. And my husband was quiet.
Over time, infertility began to wear on us.
We were trying so hard. To throw ourselves, our hearts, our hopes, our dreams, our faith back into the sheets month after month. “Maybe this will be the month…” my heart would whisper.
But, no matter if we nailed our “fertile window.” Or, totally botched it. No matter if we were getting along great. Or, fighting like cats and dogs. No matter if I diligently charted with different colored pens, and knew every fluid, and mood swing, and temperature rising and falling. Or, if I took my stack of BBT (basal body temperature) charts and threw them in the garbage under the coffee grounds–to try to prove to God that I trusted Him.
It didn’t seem to matter.
I couldn’t get pregnant.
And it felt like my husband and I just stayed still. Frozen in time.
While the rest of the world rushed past us.
All of our friends were having babies. Even accidentally.
They were trading in their sports cars for SUVs and transforming their offices and guest rooms into nurseries. They were welcoming little tiny packages, and holding them in their arms at church.
But our arms stayed empty. Except for each other.
Some nights my husband would hold me as I cried into his chest.
Why was it so easy for everyone else?
I tried to “accept” that this was God’s plan for us.
I tried to “tolerate” the fact that I couldn’t have a baby, and maybe would never be a mom.
I actually thought I was doing good, being able to “accept” this fact, or “tolerate” it. But, in reality, I was walking around with clenched, angry fists. I was trying to be okay–but I wasn’t.
My soul was like a dry, barren wasteland.
Yes, my womb was barren–but so was my soul.
There is nothing like a barren soul.
How did my soul become barren?
How did I choose to live in that dry, barren wasteland–on the inside of me?
This is how:
I looked out on my life, and saw: a barren wasteland. I saw only what I did not have, I saw only what I lacked. And I did not see God, or any of the many gifts He had already surrounded me with.
I just saw: barren.
And this is why, I think, the Bible uses the word “barren.” It literally means, “unable to produce.”
We hear the word “infertility” in our culture. But I never have felt that word is accurate. It’s too clinical. Too sterile.
And speaks nothing of the soul.
Yes. This is how the woman with the barren womb feels–on the inside. In her soul.
I was barren. And I was blind. To God.
To His goodness.
God wasn’t doing what I wanted, so I thought He wasn’t doing anything.
But He was. Oh, He was.
He is always doing more than we can see.
God didn’t want me to simply “accept” His plan (even if it meant I never had children) for my life. He didn’t want me to merely “tolerate” it.
He wanted me to embrace it.
To embrace Him.
So I did something crazy.
But sometimes you have to do something wild in order to break free.
So, here’s what I did: I thanked God for not allowing me to get pregnant.
Yes, you read that right.
I thanked Him for my “infertility.”
I said the words.
“Thank you God…”
And there was a very long pause, a very long silence before I could say it.
…”for my infertility.”
I don’t even know, if I meant it. I know I didn’t feel it.
But, I said it.
And sometimes you have to start saying something–before you can start meaning it.
Sometimes your heart is trailing twenty miles behind your head.
(Apologies and forgiveness are like this, too.)
But, you just say it. You let the words escape out of your lips. You push them out like fragile, baby birds.
And somehow, in the air, they learn to fly.
As I began to thank God for my infertility, something crazy happened. I actually began to trust Him. I began to think He was wise.
I began to think of EVERYTHING I possibly could that was “good” about not being pregnant. I made a list.
“Thank you that I don’t have to go through labor..”
“Thank you that I don’t have to go through morning sickness..”
“Or, stop exercising..”
“Thank you that I don’t have to put on baby weight..”
“Or have a flabby stomach…Or, flabby arms..”
(Yes, I was vain, but I was sincere.)
Soon, my prayers moved from vanity…to true thanks in who God was.
“Thank you God, that you are wise..”
“That you know my body better than I do…”
“That you know my future better than I do…”
“Maybe there’s something around the corner, we don’t know about yet..”
“Maybe you have called us to something we wouldn’t otherwise be able to do if we had kids…”
Maybe He was going to call us to another country to do missions, or something more wild than I had ever imagined!? I had no idea!
But for the first time–in a long time, I began to actually feel excited.
God had a plan for us. And He would show us exactly what that was.
And we could rejoice in it.
Whether that meant we had kids, or not.
This was how I began to embrace what God had for me, as a woman. For us, as a couple.
He didn’t want me walking around with those clenched fists. He was inviting me, so tenderly, so gently, to open my hands. Open my arms.
Wider, and wider still. Embracing Him–and embracing whatever He called me to.
That was how…I crossed from barren…to beautiful.
In my soul.
My womb was still barren. But my soul no longer was.
My soul was no longer that dry, barren wasteland.
And it was no longer what I saw–when I looked out over my life.
Now, I saw God. God was there. He had surrounded me with gifts, with beauty. With good things.
A torrential downpour broke out in my desert.
Streams burst through my wasteland. Just as He promised in His Word.
“See, I am doing a new thing!
Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.” Isaiah 43:19
[God did miraculously and naturally give me two beautiful babies, you can read about my first miracle daughter, and second miracle son. He did heal my barren womb, but don’t miss the biggest miracle of all–when He healed my barren soul long before any pregnancies.]
If you are barren, and reading this–take heart.
Do you know what is so great about being barren, about being as dry as a desert on the inside?
He will come and make rivers flow through your wasteland.
Gushing, mighty rivers are coming. For you!
And you will drink, like you have never drank before. Because only the thirsty, can truly drink Him in.
And you will be satisfied with Living Water. And you shall not thirst anymore.
Whether you are trying to conceive a baby–or already have tons of kids. Whether you are single, or married, or never even want kids. It doesn’t matter. Whether you are a man, or a woman, rich, or poor, it doesn’t matter.
We are all barren on the inside apart from Jesus Christ. Every single one of us.
Dry, cracked earth. A dying, desert, wasteland.
That is our soul apart from Jesus Christ.
So, if you don’t want to have a barren soul anymore.
Invite Jesus in.
He brings rivers in the wasteland. And streams to the desert. He is the Living Water. And surely, He will come at the sound of your cry.
I can’t promise anyone a baby. But I can promise you a River. His name is Jesus Christ. And if you drink of Him, you will never thirst again.
It’s what He came to do on the cross.
Maybe you think, No. I’ve had too much pain.
Maybe your fists are clenched so tightly right now. How can I open my hands? How can I open my arms to Him? Why should I?
This is why:
Because He first opened His arms–to you–on the cross.
This is the Gospel:
Jesus Came To Take All Of Us From Barren to Beautiful
Jesus could have come to this world and saved Himself. Easily. He could have come to our world, and closed His fists, and shook them at the sky. “Father! What is wrong with these people? Why did you even make them??”
But that’s not what He did. Is it?
No, instead. He opened His arms.
On the night He was betrayed. He took bread, and broke it. Saying this is my body. And He took wine, and said this is my blood, and poured it out.
And He went to the garden and wept loudly, and poured out his soul, even unto death. For us.
So we didn’t have to barren anymore–on the inside.
So we could have life. Eternal life in Him.
Jesus Opened His Arms To Us On The Cross
Have you ever thought about Jesus’ posture on the cross?
“He had arms wide open, a heart exposed.” –Misty Edwards
His arms were spread open, like He is ready to embrace us. Baring His heart.
Like He is calling out, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” (Matthew 11:28-29)
He calls us each to come–arms open wide, He calls to us. That we may open wide our arms to Him.
Embracing Him, as He is embracing us.
This is love.
Will You Let Him Take You From Barren to Beautiful?
Maybe this is the year you stop living in the desert place. I don’t know if He will give you a baby–but I know He will give you Himself. And He is the best gift of all. And…
He is calling out to you in the wilderness. Can you hear Him? He’s inviting you:
Come! Come! Come!
Don’t stay here. Don’t choose this place. Take off your grave clothes. I have something for you. I have a plan. It’s going to be wild. And scary. And you won’t always know that I’m right there–but I assure you I am! Because I will not leave you as orphans–I will come to you. And I will give you rest. And I will give you drink. And I will satisfy you. Fully. For you are mine. You are my sons, and my daughters.
For, I make streams in the desert. And rivers in the wasteland. And behold,
I am making everything new.
And I will take you from barren to beautiful. I will lift your gaze from the barren wasteland, and you will look on My beauty.
Forever and ever.