“Out of the rock will come your provision.” I was in my first semester at Seminary, sitting in my dorm room, reading in Exodus about God bringing water from the rock for the doubting, thirsty Israelites. Reading of their desperation and fear, I could feel my own insecurity burning inside of me like a hot knife—am I really called to vocational ministry? Is there some other path I should have chosen? How do I faithfully and freely live as a disciple of Christ in this world? Will God be faithful to show me the way?
I could see myself pressing forward like the Israelites, trudging through desert winds, feet sinking in deep sand. I had been trudging in the desert for a long time, seeking some place where I belonged—where I could rest, be planted, and grow. But on this fall day, reading Exodus, I felt a call to stop walking.
So I stopped. In my mind’s eye, I turned around in the desert and saw a rock behind me. The Spirit seemed to be saying to me, “You don’t need to find your way through the desert. Instead, go rest on that rock. Let yourself sit down and trust me. I can bring water out that rock, right here in the desert. Out of the rock will come your provision.”
It was four years ago that I responded to the whispers of the Spirit and sat down on the rock in my desert. Over the course of time—not immediately, but little by little—God began to cultivate a place for me right around that rock. He didn’t take me out of the desert. Instead, He transformed my little piece of desert into an oasis. A place to rest, to be planted, to grow.
Having recently graduated from seminary, I find myself going back to the rock in a new kind of desert, faced with a whole new set of questions. How can I serve the Church while not abandoning the world? Where is my unique place of ministry within the vast expanse of needs that abound in every context and culture? Can I truly become content in all circumstances, ready to be taken up or laid aside for the Kingdom? I’m seeking to surrender my own expectations of what next steps I might take, depending instead on the surprising and subtle movements of the Spirit.
Discerning our callings in ministry can feel like trudging through the desert, wondering if we’ll ever find a clear path forward, uncertain if God is moving in the whirlwind of sand. But with a shift of focus, the frightening desert can become a place of peace.
May our eyes look to Jesus, our rock in the desert (1 Cor. 10:4). He is our source of provision, the living water after which we so desperately thirst, the Life who speaks life into our caves of death and disappointment. If our identities and vocations don’t pour like water from Him, we’ll end up choking ourselves—and others—on sand. Our only way forward is to sit on the rock. Out of the rock will come our provision.
In my series of upcoming blog posts, I will be writing as someone finding her way in life and ministry as she sits on the rock. I don’t know where the rock will lead me, or what form His provision will take, but I’m choosing to trust Him with this life He has so generously given me. You’re welcome to join me on this journey of life in the desert. I look forward to beholding the springs that will break forth in the sand.