April 7, 2014

God Oases

Gary Thomas — 


Up until I wrote this blog post, only two people, other than Lisa and me, knew this story, and one of them is dead.

Lisa and I had been married for just a couple months. There was a spiritual crisis of sorts, not threatening our marriage, but freaking us out. We went and visited my boyhood pastor. We talked and prayed with he and his wife and even spent the night at their house. Something about Pastor Boggess made his house (even his presence) seem like a place of refuge, a “God oasis.”

It’s the kind of ministry I pray every Christian couple will aspire to. Consider this prophecy from the book of Isaiah:

Each man will be like a shelter from the wind

and a refuge from the storm,

like streams of water in the desert

and the shadow of a great rock in a thirsty land. (Isaiah 32:1-2)

Notice the power of these lives! A holy man or woman, and certainly a holy couple, is a spiritual force, a “God oasis” in a world that needs spiritually strong people. When the winds of turmoil hit, such people become shelters; their faith provides a covering for all. By their words and actions, by the way they listen and the way they use their eyes to love instead of judge, to honor instead of hate, to build up instead of tear down, holy women and men are like streams of water in the desert, affirming what God values most. When the heat of temptation tears this world apart, godly men and women become like the shadow of a great rock. These God-oases carry Christ to the hurting, to the ignorant, to those in need. They will be sought out—and they will have something to say.

What happens when people find their way to these God oases?

Then the eyes of those who see will no longer be closed,

and the ears of those who hear will listen.

The mind of the rash will know and understand,

and the stammering tongue will be fluent and clear. (32:3-4)

Our faith isn’t about us. It’s about setting our roots down deep, learning to drink from God’s well, and letting the overflow of that spiritual life and vitality become a place of refuge for the hurting, the sick, the discouraged, the ignorant and the tired.

When you work on your heart and then on your marriage, you create more than just a home or a relationship—you create an oasis to which God can direct people who need to feed upon your strength.

Before Gene died a few years ago, my dad met with him as Gene reminisced about his ministry. While many pastors go from small church to medium church to large church, every church that God called Gene to was smaller than the one he left behind. Gene felt a little humbled by this, but he told my dad, “If someone like your sons could come out of my ministry, I guess I did something right.”

My dad handed Gene my latest book, not knowing the crisis point that Gene had shepherded Lisa and I through. That’s the thing about oases. They don’t get credit. No one applauds the hotel or the rest stop that a famous singer or politician passes through on their way to the stage, but whatever they do would be much less if the oasis didn’t exist.

Will you and your spouse seek to build a God oasis in your neighborhood and church? Will you so invite the presence of Christ into your heart and home that when people really need to be touched by God, they come to you? Will your kids’ friends think of your house as a respite? Will your pastors look upon your house as an outpost for God’s work in your area?

You may never get credit, and you may never even see the full fruit of your ministry. But it’s a glorious ministry to inhabit.

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2 responses to God Oases

  1. I had never thought of it in those terms, but my husband and I lead marriage classes and seminars and afterward, couples want to talk with us. They feel safe to approach us. We show a lot of vulnerability in our classes, so it gives permission to share problems.

    I love that concept of being an oasis. What a beautiful goal.