Name: McKenzie Peterson
Occupation: Optician at Myoptic Optometry
Favorite verse: “Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.” – Isaiah 43:18-19
Why this verse is important to McKenzie:
When I read this scripture at church sitting next to my husband and co-minister while on sabbatical, the tears would not stop flowing. I knew in my heart that he and I had reached the end of our lives as we knew it. We were each being lead into the desert and the new thing to come was not promised to be easy.
Eight months later, I arrived at the court house with an anxious heart and disbelief. I found myself sitting in front of a judge, who peered behind a stack of paperwork. It was nothing like I thought it would be – terracotta floors, a worn walnut desk and the hum of ultraviolet lighting – it appeared more like my elementary principal’s office. The judge opened the file that included my signed divorce papers and five page rebuttal of my belief that no matter the physical paperwork – in God’s eyes we were still married; that He could still restore our marriage. I clung to hope that God would bring a spring and new life.
There would be no chance for God to restore us. The last words we ever spoke to each other were on those court steps. Within months he was engaged to another woman, the same women he denied for the past year having an affair with. That once great hope of redemption, turned into the greatest pain and torrent of emotions towards God.
The idea of grace as my ex-husband claimed it, left a bitter taste in my spirit. Not only did I feel betrayed by him, but he was using my God to justify it was ok to divorce me. The same Father I needed so desperately to help me through my disillusioned marriage and failed ministry was the same hand he was using to get out of a marriage he no longer wanted part of and into a new marriage with a woman that we both served with in ministry. That tore my spirit beyond any means of healing in this world.
I can’t say that I’ve found the resting place of peace and forgiveness toward my ex-husband. I can’t say that I’m glad God didn’t answer my prayers to be reconciled for I wouldn’t be at “x” place in life. I can’t say I have written a letter of forgiveness and blessing. I’m still very much working through this reconciliation of accounts even six years later.
What I can say is that God used the wilderness and desert to strip away my former ways and thoughts about Him, what I thought ministry was, and what it takes to live out the love of Christ. Every day I feel challenged to understand this all-loving and all-forgiving God. Every day I take steps closer to a more complete forgiveness and a deeper understanding of what grace truly is.
My deepest growth has been in the areas where He remains the most silent, even though they are the hardest. In the wilderness I have met my Savior. He “allured me into the desert” (Hosea 2:14) and in this desert I have met my Savior in His suffering and found a door of hope.
So I say this to any person in crisis or pain, do not grow weary in seeking. “It” might never make sense on this side of eternity. Learn the art of trusting God in “not knowing” and you will find peace. He is big enough and strong enough to handle your doubts and pains.
Do you not perceive it? Do you not see? He will make a way for you. Allow Him to bring new springs out of the depths of your hurt. Allow Him into your pain. Do not rush out of this season or deny the questions. Trust in Him even if He is silent. He is making a way for you out of the wilderness, perhaps one day, one step, or even one breath at a time. He is faithful.
God’s new plan in my life included remarriage to a long-standing friend. It’s been a long journey, but Gods redemption has been so special and gentle. It’s not what I wanted or when I wanted it, but it has been exactly what I needed when I needed it. Everyday I choose to drink from the spring He’s brought me and it’s full of life. It is still hard to trust God at times, but He has always remained faithful to me. Even if silent, I trust He is there.
Tools that have kept me grounded in truth:
God on Mute by Pete Grieg
Study of the poem Dark Night of the Soul by St. John of the Cross
And songs like Oh God, Where are you now?
Photography credit: The Wedding Format