Digging for Oil in the Desert


If you’ve ever been in a long-distance (in my case, intercontinental) relationship, you know there’s a point where you’re just over everything.

You’re over Skype calls that drop randomly or delay for no reason.

You’re over the time difference that keeps him 10.5 (what?) hours ahead of you all. the. time.

You’re really over paying .25 to even send a text message, and the $40 surprise that got tacked onto your phone bill (whoops, sorry!).

More than anything, you’re over simple things: like cooking dinner for one, or feeling single (when you’re definitely not) or having (well meaning) people ask how many more days you have until he’s home.

It’s forty days, people. Forty.

Today was the day that I realized just how very over distance I am. It wasn’t because I had a particularly hard day. It was eventful and packed with things that needed doing, sure, but it hadn’t been particularly hard.

It was because I could tell that the distance had finally gotten to him.

Just this once, it was incredibly evident how wearisome being apart has been on him too.

And that pushed it over the edge, just a little.

We’ve been apart for going on 115 days. We knew, going into it, we could do it; we could make it work. We even realized that it would be difficult, that we’d have to learn new ways to communicate with each other.

What I didn’t understand was how absolutely tiring it is to be apart from someone who brings me so much life, and joy, and the freedom to be myself.

It has been so exhausting.

We got to talk for just a little while early this morning, and afterwards, I sat on the dock and let my feet slip into the pollen-infused water and let the rest of me just lay down in the sun.

Honestly, I didn’t even know how to pray, so I just asked the Lord to give me something to go on. He gently pointed me to John 12, where Jesus is anointed at Bethany.

If you don’t know the story, basically, Mary (full of reverence and gratitude and love) pours a jar of really expensive oil over Jesus’ head and then wipes his feet with her hair.

The disciples–you know, guys like the ever trustworthy Judas–make a grand ol’ fuss and say she’s wasted valuable oil for nothing. The money spent should have been given to the poor.

But Jesus says she has done a beautiful thing to him and tells them to leave her alone.

In this quickly ending season of separation, I’m learning to pour out my oil for Jesus.

I’m learning to go looking for precious things in this desert time, and then to return it to Jesus with praise because He doesn’t owe me anything.

Not better phone connections.

Not closer time zones.

Not my money back.

Not for this man to come home to me at all.


The fundamental difference between the hearts of Judas and Mary, is Mary’s scandalous humility and love.

And I’m hoping that in the next forty days, that’s what I learn–scandalous humility and audacious love and monumental trust in Him who owes me nothing.

But who deserves to have all my precious oil poured out over Him.

And I’ll pour it out in long moments laying on the dock and quiet thankfulness for any phone call at all. And in deep breaths, taken in defiant peace while the enemy tries to wage war on my confidence. And in hope for the things to come.

I can’t ignore the idea that we dig for oil in the driest deserts. We look for something precious in a wilderness.

But even the things we find there aren’t ours.