Enjoy this devotional from FlourishWriters student Lindsey Weber
My footsteps echoed across the restored wooden floors of the guesthouse I rented for a weekend celebration. When this late-nineteenth-century home first opened for visitors, I secretly settled on it as the ideal location for pre-wedding festivities. Now my guests were due to arrive in less than an hour. Instead of a wedding, though, I would be celebrating a milestone birthday . . . alas, I was still single.
Crossing the threshold of the dining room, an oversized wall clock caught my attention. Its hands had been removed, indicating a suspension of time in this place dedicated to hosting memorable moments. God had brought me here to celebrate life—of that, I felt convinced. Yet, I couldn’t drown out the ominous ticking that sounded in my mind, counting down toward the expiration of my hopes. I’d prayed God would write a love story with my life: this didn’t seem to be it. Still, I clung to the truth of His faithfulness determined to believe He hadn’t forgotten me.
Shaking off the melancholy, I welcomed my friends with deliberate joy. They came armed with food and books, cards and gifts, and words of blessing. As they filled the house with shared laughter and new memories—and yes, even a few tears—I let myself relax, embraced by their loving presence.
Early the next morning, while others slept in or prepared delectable fare in the kitchen, I crept down the narrow stairs. A fleecy blanket beckoned me to a sofa., candlelight flickered softness onto the sharp edges of the dark. Journal in hand, I scribbled down all the twists and turns through which God had brought me to this place. I considered, too, how He might desire to shape my dreams from here. The Scripture He called to mind in those quiet moments is precious to me now, though it took time to grasp its full significance.
Therefore, behold, I will allure her,
and bring her into the wilderness,
and speak tenderly to her.
And there I will give her her vineyards
and make the Valley of Achor a door
—Hosea 2:14–15 ESV
That weekend celebration with friends, capped off by the morning’s quiet contemplation with my Lord, helped me enter the second half of my life story with hope intact. However, those sweet moments turned out to be an oasis of calm in a much broader wilderness. My fortieth birthday arrived at the dawn of 2020, right before the world as we knew it shuddered to a halt. I then spent February battling sickness and depression; March brought six weeks of almost total isolation. As fear washed over the world, I was caught with my mouth wide open, swallowing it all.
Months passed, then a year. The world writhed, and I, like Jacob, wrestled with God. I knew, as did that wayward patriarch, that I had been called, abundantly blessed, by the Living God. But I had failed to recognize the constant presence of the One who led me through the wilderness. My pride declared I knew best how to tell my story. My bitterness blamed God for withholding the life I sought. At last, the same terrible mercy that broke Jacob’s hip broke me.
God, forgive me! My story, my life, my love—it all belongs to You.
Out of the darkness, the stillness, the pain, His whisper arose again.
Therefore, behold, I will allure her
Though I had allowed my heart to stray—to grow distracted, even hardened—God still saw me as His beloved. He sought to woo my heart, draw me deeper into His presence.
Bring her into the wilderness
In this desert of ruggedness and deprivation, my Lord was stripping me of everything upon which I’d once depended. Far from being a needless detour from what I thought I wanted, this was God’s purposeful path for me.
And speak kindly to her
I sought my way over His and longed for control over my life and circumstances. Yet, every time my anger and blame placed me above God in my mind, and though I brashly dared to stand in judgment of the Almighty, His kindness led me to repentance. He desired not to punish—not to stone me for my wayward heart, as any betrayed Old Testament husband would have had the right to do—but to forgive.
Then I will give her her vineyards from there
God is the generous Giver. He is my protector and provider, the One who seeks to shower me with abundance. Just as the owners of the home in which we celebrated had restored an aging, broken-down structure into a haven of rest and beauty and light, so God longs to transform me.
And the valley of Achor . . .
In Scripture, the valley of Achor represents trouble, sin, betrayal, and punishment. My Lord wanted to impress upon me that I needed to see my place of trouble differently. He desired me to view my greatest shame, my disappointed hopes, my most painful regret—even, as Psalm 23 describes it, my valley of shadow—as a door of hope.
. . . as a door of hope.
Rather than a dead-end, He wanted me to see a doorway. A way through into a wide and spacious place of hope renewed, of life restored.
He also brought me out into an open place;
He rescued me, because He delighted in me.
—Psalm 18:19 NASB
Be encouraged, dear one! God has not forgotten you. In the fullness of His time, the Lord is preparing you to receive all He desires to pour out. Though we stumble through the wilderness, our weak hearts struggling with “hope deferred,” God offers to fulfill our longings with His presence. He delights in growing within us a tree of life, one that will bear fruit for generations to come (see Proverbs 13:12). May He open your eyes to see, instead of trouble on every side—an entrance into a wide-open place. May you see a door of hope!
Lindsey spends her school days teaching 2nd graders and sharing her love for words with the next generation. During evenings, weekends, and the too-swift summers in between, you can find her absorbed in the works of her favorite authors, (particularly Jane Austen and L. M. Montgomery), doing life with dear friends, treating herself to dark chocolate and London Fog . . . and of course, writing!! Lindsey is the creator of the LightWater Collective, where she writes to reveal truth, restore hope, and release hearts into the fullness and freedom of Kingdom life. Follow Lindsey at lightwatermission.com