• Tonie Roberts

Gran Canaria, one of Spain's Canary Islands, is situated right off the coast of West Africa, so strong winds often blow sand onto the island and forms dunes on the mini desert area known as Maspalomas.

You can literally walk through it and feel like you're in the Sahara. But just like in actual deserts, if you continue walking for a few minutes, you'll stumble upon one of the island's most beautiful beaches.

Well, this year has felt like that in reverse. Last year was like being on the breathtaking Maspalomas beach: the sun warmed me, the breeze soothed me, and the sound of the waves reminded me of God's constant presence.

Then 2020 came crashing in: the wind and sand blinded me, I was stripped of all I knew, and left to trek barefoot through the hot desert with no camel or water in sight and nothing but a face covering that I was told would keep away the death causing elements.

It's been almost 4 months since Covid19 overturned our lives. 4 months is nothing but it has seemed like a lifetime because of all the alterations we've had to make. But that's what God's timing is like - a day can be like a year and sometimes we need that time to think, process what God is saying, and make necessary changes in our lives. In Maspalomas Gran Canaria, you are only walking in the desert for a short time before you reach a gorgeous beach. But sometimes God's plan requires us to tread through the desert a little longer.

In the Bible, the desert represents a season of learning, and sometimes a season of trial or testing. During the desert years what is familiar to us is stripped away so that we can focus on and draw closer to God.

After Paul met Jesus on the road to Damascus, he went to live in the desert for 3 years (Galatians 1:17-18).That's a long time to be in the desert but that's the amount of time God required him to be there in order to change and prepare him for ministry. When Paul returned, he was eager and excited about sharing his testimony and God's word with everyone.

We are all tired of socially distancing and long to get back to normal. But Covid isn't over yet. We might need to remain in the desert a little longer. So make the most of your desert journey. Spend time with Jesus on that sandy trek. Remember that God provided manna for the Israelites when they were in the desert (Psalms 78:24, John 6:31) - He will also equip you with daily provisions to get you through this sandstorm.

Whether this lasts a few more weeks or a few more months, make sure that in the end you'll come out changed and renewed and ready to share your testimony of all God did for you on this journey.

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  • Tonie Roberts

Once I decided that I was going to walk by the Word of God and do my best to make His Word final, I believe that was the most important decision I’ve ever made.

Not too long after that, I decided that no matter what happened, whether I felt like it or not, I would try my best to walk in love. Because the Bible clearly says “faith worketh by love.” (Galatians 5:6) It won’t work any other way.

Those two decisions—to operate by faith in the Word of God and to walk in love—are the two most important decisions I’ve ever made in my life.

Then recently, God revealed there was something I’d been leaving out. It was the force of joy! I heard within my “inner man” that I should just walk by faith and love and just leave joy asleep in my spirit. It’s too important. I soon came to realize that joy is an essential part of a life of victory. Without it, I might have an occasional triumph, but I wouldn’t be able to sustain them. They’d quickly slip away.

I learned that joy is what gives us the strength (Nehemiah 8:10) to hold steady when the circumstances get rough. Joy gives us the ability to laugh in the devil’s face when he starts trying to knock us off our faith. It gives us a kind of staying power that will make us winners over and over again.

We need to make a commitment to God that we’re going to walk, not only in faith and in love but also in joy. We have to make it a point to rejoice in the Lord always...and there won’t be anything the devil can do or say to steal our victory!

Rejoice in the Lord always: and again I say, Rejoice.

– Philippians 4:4

  • Tonie Roberts

Anyone who has visited the Dominican Republic and ventured away from its fabulous vacation resorts, has most likely experienced the daily, random blackouts the country is known for. Because the country runs on limited electrical power plants, on any given day, at any given time, the electricity shuts down for an undetermined amount of time. This robs everyone of various liberties and luxuries we often take for granted: cooling off in an air conditioned home, having an ice cream cone, drinking an ice cold glass of water,

using a copier or fax machine at work, enjoying an afternoon at the movies, charging your dying cell phone, or taking a refreshing shower. 

You may not associate running water with electricity but water in the Dominican Republic is delivered via electrical pumps. So during blackouts the piped water stops flowing. To add to that, once the power comes back on, the water takes forever to heat and often comes out rusted or smelly depending on how long it sat there. Many people collect big barrels of water to use when the power is off but standing water usually attracts insects. So a bucket of water often has dead bugs in it.

Undoubtedly, taking a proper shower was the thing I probably missed most during the three years I lived in the Dominican Republic.  Have you ever stopped to really think about how amazing cool water feels as it pours over your head on a hot day?

Do you slowly savor its warmth on a cold morning? Ahhh...the healing power of a hot shower massaging your aching body!  Don't you just love feeling squeaky clean as you look down and see suds pooling at your feet?

Water is most certainly a grand gift from God! He knew just how wonderful water would be when He gathered the waters and called them "seas" and saw that it was good [Genesis 1:10]. Us Rockaway folks certainly know just how amazing that ocean is!

The Word uses water to teach us valuable lessons:

When John baptized Jesus he reminded us that he "baptized with water but God will baptize us with the Holy Spirit" [John 1:26].

In the book of Genesis, Noah was asked to build an ark to protect his family from the waters that would change the earth forever. Noah's obedience saved the earth.

Jesus taught His disciples and us to have no fear when He walked on water. "A strong wind was blowing and the waters grew rough...and they were afraid, but he said to them, It is I, don't be afraid" [John 6:18-21]. Peter also learned to have complete trust when Jesus called him out to meet Him on the water [Matthew 14:28-31].

One of the most important lessons conveyed through the symbol of water is that "whoever drinks the water that I (Jesus)  give them will never thirst" [John 4:14]. Imagine that! Never being thirsty again! Maybe literal thirst as we know it on earth can't be banished but you can be certain that when you "drink" of the goodness that Jesus offers, you will never need anything else to satisfy you.

I was reminded of that when I was hit hard with Covid19. For almost 3 weeks I suffered through every single symptom, but the worst was the 4 days where I could hardly breathe. It was like trying to suck air through a clogged straw. Sadly, I kept thinking this is what it must be like for asthmatics.

During those frightful days, one of the home remedies that helped was to run a piping hot shower with the door closed so that I could breathe in the steam. Then I'd lower the temperature a bit and get in it. Most times I cried as the water soothed me with its warmth. It felt like God was wrapping me in His loving arms, telling me I was going to be alright. Healing water.

On the 3rd day of difficult breathing I received a text from a friend from church telling me to hold on to the song, Healing Rain, by Michael W. Smith. 

Now anyone that knows me, knows I'm not a fan of rain, but that day it rained and when I watched it from my window I just knew God was once again reminding me that His Healing Water was being poured on me, and I was no longer afraid.

@2016 by House on the Rock Church