My first copy of Streams in the Desert was gifted to me by my paternal grandma. She loved books and reading and shopping, specifically shopping at secondhand stores.
For years, she and her sister, Aunt Val, scoured the secondhand stores of Stockton every single Tuesday, looking for treasures. At midday, they would take a break and go by Leni's for a cup of split pea soup and crackers. Then, they would shop some more.
It was during one of those outings Grandma found a small copy of the beloved classic, Streams in the Desert. It was not much to look at. The cover was a worn out red, not quite a bright red, but not a muted brick red either, but somewhere in between. The pages were yellow and a bit worn. I was probably eleven or twelve when I received a copy for Christmas. It was plain on the outside, but oh! The treasures inside this book! Almost immediately, my heart was smitten.
Over the years I returned to this devotional, some years going through it daily and other years picking it up occasionally.
This past year it became a companion to me once again. After bible study and prayer, I reach for the devotional, reading and praying through the day's verse and thoughtful encouragement.
Through Storms He Clears the Way
It's odd to think a book birthed out of suffering could be so encouraging, but it is. Perhaps, because Lettie Cowman was no stranger to either suffering or receiving encouragement from God, she could compile a book that was both honest and hopeful.
This book does not have a "rose colored glasses" approach to suffering. She does not deny hardships or try to stuff them away. Neither does she give false hope or glitzy promises. She too, struggled with unanswered prayer and lingering hardships.
Mrs. Cowman also knew the danger of giving in to doubt or disbelief in the middle of suffering. She takes a realistic look at the prominence of hardships and suffering in the Christ follower's life along with a faith-filled perspective, gathering bits and pieces of wisdom and encouragement from many other believers and including them in the devotional.
The single line opening the book sets the tone for the volume.
Through wind and storms and clouds, He gently clears the way.
How true. As anyone who has walked through life wrestling with faith and the problem of suffering knows (if they persevere through it), this is our journey, to go through suffering with the Lord. I often forget He is with me. I am not alone in it. He may be quiet, I may not feel Him, but Emmanuel is always present. He uses every hard and bitter thing and does turn it to good use in life. Eventually, the way clears and as it does, we learn to walk closer to Him and remain faithful as we walk out our purpose here on our very short time on this earth.
It has been the same for all generations of Christ-followers throughout the centuries. Yet, the human heart and mind forget quickly. I think that is why I love Streams in the Desert so much. It is a clarion call back to a simple and steadfast walk of faith when I am tempted to forget and wander away.
I don't walk alone. Not only is Jesus with me, but I walk in the community of saints, not only in this generation, but all who've gone before me and will come after me.
I hope you enjoy the readings and art inspired by Streams in the Desert.
My hope is that you will be encouraged to sit with this devotional or the Bible (the psalms and gospels are both very inspiring for art!) and spend some time creating and talking with Jesus.
Painting and embroidery are two mediums that allow my mind to slow down and create a more receptive spirit in me as I pray and listen (especially listen).
May you be encouraged to keep going through the "wind and storms and clouds" in your own life, knowing that God is clearing a way.