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Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.

-Isaiah 43:19-

Jesus called me to the wilderness, both literally and figuratively, for the past three months. Before this summer started, I was in a season of fear of the Lord. Not the healthy, “Oh my Lord I fear You and Your goodness” type of fear, but the “I must do everything right so He does not become disappointed in me and strip things that I care about from my life” type of fear. I thought these feelings were long gone, but here it was. As bold and strong as ever.

Driving out to camp, I had a pretty good idea of what might happen when I got there. The Lord would discipline me and show me all I was doing wrong. However, the second I turned onto the 8-mile-long dusty, dirt road that led to my wilderness, I was hit with a tsunami of peace. I had been longing for this peace to fill me for months. My gentle God had a lot He wanted me to experience I’m sure. But He just shouted the word RENEWAL to me. He captured my heart in a new way. I fell immensely in love with our King, my Love, and knew that this was the start of an even deeper relationship with Him.

So, as I settled into camp and the training began, I started to see the freedom this place had, the overwhelming sense of the Lord’s presence that rested here. I buckled down and cried to my Father, “Okay. Everything I have, everything I am, every dream, relationship, EVERYTHING is Yours. Do what You will.” And we were off. The healing process I endured was hard. It was the tough kind of messy that is full of embarrassing tears and telling people “I’m fine” all high-pitched like Ross from Friends.

My first lesson of renewal was that it comes with confession. The Lord created healthy community and accountability for us to live in. I had taken advantage of that back at school, so of course Jesus showed off and gave me an amazing group of believers this summer. We walked, talked, and prayed through a lot of life’s hard things together. We built authentic relationships. He reaffirmed His design of friendship by blessing me with sisters and brothers that I know will be lifelong friends (you know who are, holla at you!).

Within my community, I learned that it is okay to not be okay…who would have thought? What isn’t okay is to dwell in your “low places”. 

God, the Lord, is my strength; he makes my feet like the deer’s; he makes me tread on my high places.

            -Habakkuk 3: 19-

The cool thing is, He never leaves us in those low places if we give Him everything. It’s the journey to our high places, with Him by our side, that shape us and mold us into the children He intended for us to be. For me, I did not know what He was trying to show me, teach me. He gently spoke that a lot will come with renewing, some in aspects I wasn’t expecting.

to begin again; to revive; to be restored to a former state

So I learned that with renewal comes…

  • Healing
  • Forgiving
  • Being able to love better
  • Ceasing the dwelling in the past
  • A fresh prayer life
  • A fresh outpouring
  • A new hope
  • A new fire

I hope to encourage whoever happens to be reading this; you are never alone. The enemy likes to isolate us. He wants you to believe that you are alone, you are the worst. Whatever crap you think is the worst, that no one else could possibly relate to, that is false. So confide, confess, cry, pray, rejoice in what the Lord is doing with those around you. It is a whole lot easier to live in freedom with fellow warriors of Christ walking besides you.

This summer I am sure will not be my only time experiencing a season in the wilderness. It was an eye opener though of how the Lord is constantly pursuing me. I have never felt more in love with our King than the past three months. I pray it never ceases! I pray that the brothers and sisters in my life, or whoever might be reading this, will experience life as His Bridegroom. It is sweet. It is overwhelmingly beautiful. It is so needed.

-Ellie Whitfield