Almost 2 years ago, I was in the third and final round of interviews for a job - the one that would seal the deal. The interview started with the strangest question: “Jenae, how’s your courage these days?”
Shocked by the question, but more shocked by what I felt boiling to the surface, I began to cry. I knew this man, and I was excited at the possibility of working with him. If I’d been honest though, the idea of taking on a new position was overwhelming. My present season was taking every last ounce of me. I had been showing up to every interview, putting on my best efforts and passing thus far, but this one question unraveled me and revealed the truth - the position was not for me.
Following his question and my tears, the man went on to tell me how much he wanted to hire me, but that God had spoken to him very clearly that I was exactly where God wanted me for the time being. My interviewer knew that if he were to intervene, he would be getting in the way of what God was doing in my life.
I sat back in my chair as if an arrow of truth had pierced my heart and I was resting for the first time in a long time. I was exactly where God wanted me? If there was one thing I wanted, it was to desperately get out of my present situation. For the last year I had endured what felt like torture - stripping away my ability to achieve, stripping away my relationships and favor and putting me in a corner where I felt unseen and unheard. How could God want me here? I was trying with all the maturity I could muster to not run as fast as I could out of that season. But I knew what this man was telling me was completely true - God had me there for a reason, and we weren’t finished yet.
It was in that season - the season I never would have asked for - that I came to know God like never before. Stripped of my man-made crutches rooted in a wrong identity, God led me to a wilderness. It was an entire year after the interview before God opened a door for me to transition out of that time. That year felt like ten years in one. Ten years of dis-couragement - when the enemy had been stealing my courage, lying to me about my future, and punching me in the gut. My identity was rocked to the core, my confidence depleted, but I was holding onto the hope that if God had led me here, it would ultimately be for my good.
The book of Hosea is the story of a man God directed to marry a prostitute. Hosea was to love her like God loves His people Israel. But his bride kept returning to her former life, her former loves and her former comfort - idols and independence.
Then in Hosea 2:14-16, we see a beautiful picture penned of God’s love and pursuit for His bride. God, in His great mercy, His great love and faithfulness, would never settle with her being far away from her true identity. He’d never settle with her being a slave.
“Therefore, behold, I will allure her,
I will bring her into the wilderness,
And speak comfort to her.
I will give her her vineyards from there,
And the Valley of Achor as a door of hope;
She shall sing there,
As in the days of her youth,
As in the day when she came up from the land of Egypt.
“And it shall be, in that day,”
Says the Lord,
“That you will call Me ‘My Husband,’
And no longer call Me ‘My Master,’
It wasn’t until God led me to this passage that my season started to make sense. He’d allured me here, away from all other loves, idols and distractions. He was coming to speak comfort to my broken soul, if only I would choose to listen. He was bringing me out of despair and into true hope. This passage was prophesying my future - I would one day sing again, like I did in my youth. I’d sing of all He’d brought me out of. I’d know His heart intimately and no longer be a slave to performance. Yes, He indeed had a good plan.
What I didn’t realize in that first year, or really till the end of the second year, is that God had allured me there, to the wilderness of my soul, in His kindness. He was answering years of prayers to heal my broken heart and give me true courage.
So if you feel like you’re in a wilderness, and maybe you’ve been there for years, I encourage you to stop and look with a different perspective. Maybe you’ll find that the wilderness is less about lack or punishment and so much more about God wanting to take you to a new place of intimacy with Him. Maybe there in the wilderness He’s wanting to meet you and answer prayers you’ve prayed years ago.
About Jenae Tankersley
Jenae is an Arkansas girl who has grown to love the big city of Dallas, Texas. She’s always looking for the next adventure and loves change more than comfort. As a writer and photographer, she aspires to capture what is often overlooked - to find beauty in every day life and put courage in every person she meets along the way. She lives amazed by Jesus and His abundant grace that makes her confident. She's a pastor at Gateway Church working with students and young adults. Running, traveling, gardening, and coffee are just a few of the things that feed her soul.