stuck, suffering, and making no progress? Good.

The messy middle.

The kind of messy middle where it feels like nothing is happening;

Where prayers are prayed earnestly then seemingly drift off into a sea of no hope because God does not feel close.

The kind of season that drags on forever, like you have taken zero steps towards progress, as if your two feet are up to the ankles in quick sand.

And you fear you will be stuck there forever.

If your 2018 felt like all that, fearfully stuck and stuck in fear, then perhaps you might have noticed me, stuck and afraid in the same spot, right beside you.

And I love how God always shows up and does His super Almighty Thing : where the Scripture of the day just so happens to match up with exactly where you are.

Today, we learn about Wisdom. (Proverbs 9:1-6) And how if we desire to live out a call we must first remain in silence. And not for two seconds or just a few minutes or even a week.

But quite possibly, for a long suffering season.

A journey into the desert.

The messy middle where your feet don't move.

And we also learn about the voice that cries out in that desert. (John 1:19-28)

The voice, that because of all that time in the quiet and still, is clear about its purpose, is steady on its feet, is ready to take those steps forward and lead those who are still stuck in fear to the other side of all that stuck-ness and scariness.

We are so afraid of facing our fears. Yet it is HIS face we find when we push through.

Could it be that fear is what makes Peace so unrecognizable?

Could it be that if we never accept God's invitation into the desert, we will never live out our true call and purpose?

Do you think that if we never spent time feeling stuck, we would ever slow down long enough to recognize our own sinfulness that has formed into most of the gunk that has accumulated around our ankles?

Not gonna lie. I thought 2018 was a pretty disappointing and traumatic year, until I finally gave in and pitched my tent, and hung out in her presence...let wisdom sink in. It was only in the silence that I was able to recognize the unrecognizable. The face of Jesus and the hand of His Mother that was present every single moment of that excruciating year.

Because when we do this...when we take the time to reflect and ponder on the year...rather than hurriedly choose a new Word and run full speed ahead, as we pack up the last twelve months in a shoe box, and store it up high in the closet or maybe even set it on fire...if we sit with all that was painful and everything that was just so not our plan....and if we sift through it and stare long and hard at it...perhaps when we face it like this, we will see His face staring back at us.

2018...the year that felt like everything fell apart and shattered at my unmovable feet was actually the year that true rebuilding began. It was the year that brought me to my knees and kept me there...stuck at His feet...and I swear, it is God's most brilliant move when it comes to, who thinks it is all up to Laura to restore and fix...He kept me at His feet so that HE could restore...He kept me in the desert so that I could remain silent....those shattered pieces were not mine to gather and glue, but His and only His. Every piece of everything belongs to Him.

Our tears are not for nothing, sweet friends. They are collected and used to glue it all back together. And time in the desert is not a waste of time. Just because you are not moving, does not mean God is not moving.

If you felt stuck in 2018....if you felt like you moved to nowhere, or worse...moved in the wrong assured...God put you there for a good reason. Because sometimes? Sometimes I think we need a good smack down. Sometimes I think we THINK we are giving it all to God, but we are not. We are too afraid to lay it all down. We try...we come to Him...we set the burden at His feet...and we cry hard and loud. But then? Then, we wipe our tears, shove prayer books back into well stocked purses, pick it all back up, swing it onto our backs, and run away. We lay it all down for a little while...but because of fear, we grab it all back up.

Because what if we lay it all down...and God does nothing with it?

This is the lie that calls us away from the desert He is inviting us into.

Away from the promise we want to believe but are still slow dancing with fear.

Because an invitation to dance sounds better than an invitation to sit still.

But don't be fooled.

Even the devil knows how to dance.

2018 taught me how to lay it all down once and for all.

To face fear so that I can face Him.

To stay unmovable so that God could move mountains.

To stay focused so that I could recognize those still stuck in fear, to use my own voice to cry out in the desert.

To give meaning to suffering and to live out my call.

This does not mean the days in the desert are over.

And thank God.

Because it is here that I learned that even if God were to do nothing...His nothing far surpasses my attempt at something.

This, I learned in the desert.

To face fear.

To trust He has got this.

To step out of His way.

To leave broken things to Him.

To lay it all down and leave it there.

To live unafraid.

Praying for all of those to whom the face of Christ is unrecognizable; for those who can't see His face because they refuse to face fear, for those still in search of their voice and their calling, resisting the desert, carrying burdens on their backs, bleeding from the hands as they desperately try to make sense of the shards of glass that were supposed to be their life. As a witness to the power of God and the wonders He works when you step out of His way....lay it all down, sweet friends, and leave it there.