It is curious that I sit here on a plane headed toward the deserts of Dubai, leaving my home on my way back to the place that my heart feels most at home. It is analogous of how I feel in my spiritual journey, departing home, headed straight into the desert, and longing for the place for which my heart desperately yearns.

I am flying to Ethiopia to begin a new phase of my role with Mercy Branch. I have my hands off the day to day, and am now charged with bridging the gap between continents, ensuring the work is happening on one continent while trying to raise awareness and funds on another. It is challenging and at times feels beyond me, but I am the person God chose for such a time as this.

I can’t really articulate what these past four months have felt like. It is hard to explain the choices my family made without succumbing to the temptation to justify our actions and choices.

It hurts. There it is.

It feels like I was on the verge of accomplishing the very thing God created me for, and then, just before I could say, “see, I did it” to all my imaginary critics (yes, I said imaginary, we really haven’t had much in the way of real critics) I was removed from the situation. I vacillate between deep emotions that I often do not know how to cope with. Everything from guilt for wanting to say, “I” did it and bitterness for feeling removed from a place I love, to excitement for the fact that this is in Ethiopian hands where it belongs, to fear it may somehow break down, to emotions that are simply too complex for me to find words to describe. It is a desert place.

God often uses desert places in our lives, both figuratively and literally to give us time and space to connect with Him. It is the in between, that feels so far, and yet can bring us so close. It is a necessary layover from what is and where God is leading us. It is not fun; it is necessary. Moses was sent to the desert, the Israelite people wandered the desert; Jesus frequently retreated to the desert (often when He was in His most productive seasons of life and ministry).

To tell the truth, in my personal journey, I am in the midst of a desert that I do not yet understand, but I long for the intimacy that I believe will come on the other side. In my journey to Ethiopia, I long for the smells, the taste, the sun, my Land Rover, and more than anything the relationships. I feel guilty that I am about this without Tiffany and Habi as they are as much Mercy Branch as anyone, but I am eager for home nonetheless.

It has been said that the Christian journey is a path of heading into the desert, emerging from the desert, or leaving the desert. Where are you with your journey? Are you in the desert like me, or have you recently emerged? Maybe you sense you are headed into the desert? Regardless, may you feel loved and know that God has called you blessed. May that be enough… and may it be so for me.

Father, Your Kingdom come, Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven, desert places included.

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Our very first group of Mercy Branch boys in our program.

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