So I find myself in a both strange and familiar place... strange because it does not fit, it is not right - but familiar because I've most certainly been here before in varying degrees.
This time, I have only just arrived, but I remember vividly the worst of what this place holds.
The air is dry and dusty, and the only laughter is that of the scorching wind as it kicks the dust up into my face. The landscape is flat and changeless. On most days, I get the sinking feeling that there is nothing more - there is no hope for anything more than survival - and I resign myself to that fact. Precious few, I find a glimmer of joy and of purpose, which I cling to as my hope, but these tender shoots quickly wither under the blazing sun. My companions offer little solace as they greedily snatch up the only food this place provides... my stomach rumbles again like thunder and I reach back through the haze of my memories - I have not always been here.
As I sort through my story, I realize this place is a strange mix of exodus and prodigality. I have been through this land on my way to a new Home, but at times I find myself returned & utterly alone. Like the Israelites in the desert, I have wandered here between the slavery I was born into and a new land. Then, like the prodigal son, I have thrown myself into the arms of lesser lovers and found myself here and longing for home. Here again, I return, and each time I return (whether consciously or otherwise), I find that God pursues me even here. As with Israel in the story of Hosea, He gives and He takes away, all to show that HE is the Lord & lover of my soul.
Through all my unfaithfulness, He pursues me. I run and then return - because He pursues me. And I know He pursues me because He is Life, and Jesus died to bring me into real Life & into His family.
So here continues my story... it is most certainly a continuing, not a beginning... of God's mercy and love as He pursues my heart. I pray that my response will be to turn to Him again, not away, as the journey continues.