Beauty in Barrenness

by Maureen Miller

There was a time I wouldn’t have believed anything beautiful could come from the barren season of infertility. My dreams were dead, plain and simple. With a broken heart, I was resigned to live with this truth.

But the Spirit persisted in the quiet, morning moments, in the afternoon, and even in the ready for bed weariness. He just wouldn’t let it go, and His gentle wooing turned my heart toward Him with affirmation that one day, I would be a mom.

You’re blessed in your barrenness, He’d whisper. Watch as I make beauty from what you consider broken.

And you know, as I replaced my stinkin’ thinkin’ with the truth of God’s Word, the sweet fragrance of Christ infiltrated my clenched heart to saturate all its fragmented pieces. What was hardened became soft. Where I’d once been emotionally arid, impregnable excitement grew.

What will God do? I’d ask, pouring my heart onto the pages of my journal. I couldn’t write my thoughts quickly enough. What had started out as a few quiet moments with the Lord became quiet hours instead. I desired to remain in His presence, because, despite unchanged circumstances, that’s where I felt most at peace.

Good fruit blossoms when one clings to God’s promises. Though the enemy tried to steal this newfound contentment, I took negative, dishonest thoughts captive and claimed instead passages that spoke life rather than death. I felt God’s favor and was finally able to journey with joy.

One morning, God spoke words I knew were from the Bible, though I didn’t know where. My word will not return void.

What did He mean? I pondered this prayerfully and journaled my thoughts. To be void is to be empty of something, and my womb was certainly this. Was God promising that a baby would one day fill that vacant space, the place I’d previously considered merely a tomb for my dreams?

I discovered that these words are from Isaiah 55, although some versions actually use “empty” instead of void. The passage speaks of God’s thoughts and ways being so much higher, much more purposeful, than our own—culminating with, “So is My word that goes out of my mouth: It will not return [void], but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it…” (Isaiah 55:11 NIV).

This truth took root in my heart and sustained me through years of infertility. I came to trust that God had a plan, though perhaps His manner of bringing it to fruition was different than I’d at one time imagined. Though my womb remained empty, God’s words did not return void but conceived within me flourishing fruits of peace and joy.

In time, I did become a mom. Through the miracle of adoption, I have three “born-in-my-heart” children, as well as two grandchildren, with another on the way. I relish in sharing the story of God’s faithfulness—His promises spoken through His Word which have blossomed beauty, even in the most barren of seasons.

No matter where one might find herself—no matter how dry and desolate her circumstances—God is calling each of us to step out in faith and to say Yes! to a joy-filled journey with Jesus. His promises are true and His Word a weapon against the enemy of our souls, the destroyer of our dreams.

Mostly, what we’ll discover as we press in to Him is that, without fail, our Redeemer’s words will never return empty. Rather, no matter where we find ourselves, no matter how broken or barren, when we walk with Him–

[We] will go out with joy and be led forth with peace. Isaiah 55:12a NIV

This article is brought to you by the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association (AWSA).

About the author: Maureen Miller has a heart to convey God’s faithfulness and love to a world in need. She blogs regularly at www.penningpansies.com and is finishing her debut novel The Bible by the Bed, under contract with Redemption Press. She can be found picking wildflowers in western North Carolina or playing with grandchildren and her dogs in dancing pastures, the dwelling place for her family’s Scottish Highlanders.  

Join the conversation: For what promise are you waiting for God to fulfill?

The Power of the Spoken Word

by Fran Sandin

How then will they call on Him in Whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in Him of Whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching?  Romans 10:14 ESV

In 2012 my husband, Jim, and I were ministry partners for “The Singing Men of Texas” and the Michael and Jan Gott International Ministries. We traveled on mission to Crimea.

In Sevastopol, where the Russian Baltic fleet is based, we visited a lovely area that had a shaded park and a large, decorative, white archway with steps leading down to the water’s edge—a great photo op. A small adjacent street market sold fashionable large-brimmed hats, and Jim bought one for me—a perfect black and white stripe. On a hot spring day, the extra covering came in handy.

At the Singing Men’s concert that evening, I met Ira. She grew up in a non-Christian home, but her parents were interested in her getting a good education. Ira did not want to be a Christian, because they endured constant discrimination and got the worst jobs. So she was fine with her life as it was.

However, when an opening came up for an interpreter at a Baptist church, her father encouraged her to apply so she could improve her English-speaking skills. Also, she might get a better job as a result. Yay! She got the church job.

One of her first services was to translate an English-speaker’s words to Russians. The pastor was from Baton Rouge, Louisiana, with a strong southern drawl. She said, “I could barely understand him, much less translate!” But after listening to his sermons several times, she was beginning to understand.

One Sunday morning as she was translating the gospel message, Ira understood for the first time the love of Jesus in giving His life to save her. That very day she gave her heart to Him, with tears streaming down her face. She was converted through the sermon she was interpreting. That is the power of the spoken Word.

The Bible tells us words have power. Especially God’s words. He told Isaiah, “So shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it” (Isaiah 55:11 ESV). His words are more than inspiring. They are transformative.

Now Ira is married to a church leader, and they are parents of two children. She supports women’s ministries, has done magazine editorial work, and actively participates in her church and community. Ira is enthusiastic about her faith. Filled with the Holy Spirit, she has a gift of encouragement. She is an asset in God’s Kingdom, and I feel so honored to have met her.

Dear Heavenly Father, Your children come from all parts of the globe. They are gifted in so many ways and are eager to spread the good news of salvation to all who will hear. Help us not take for granted the sacrificial gift of Jesus’ death in our place. Let it be fresh in our hearts every day so that we will want to share the good news of His love for others. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.

This article is brought to you by the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association (AWSA).

About the author: Fran Caffey Sandin is a retired nurse, wife, mother, and grandmother in Greenville, Texas. She has authored See You Later, Jeffrey, and Touching the Clouds: True Stories to Strengthen Your Faith. This devotional is an excerpt from her new book, HOPE on the Way, DEVOTIONS to Go, published by Roaring Lambs Ministries in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. For more information visit Fran’s website: www.fransandin.com.

Join the conversation: How have words influenced you?