Deep In the Heart with Elizabeth Grace Goodine


                   There is beauty in the desert, but it takes some time to see,

                   ‘Cause it’s rugged and it’s barren—not a place I’d choose to be.

                   At first, I just feel lonely. It’s almost more than I can bear.

                   And I’m uneasy with the stillness and the silence that are there.

                   As the sun beats down upon me, I get weary from the heat.

                   And I sweat and thirst for water, and the sand clings to my feet.

                   But the evenings are so lovely. There’s a gentle breeze that blows.

                   And I love to see the sun behind the mountains as it glows.

                   In the springtime I’m amazed to see the flowers that are grown.

                   And I never knew the cactus had a flower of its own.

                   I don’t understand how in this hot, dry desert, plants survive.

                  But I guess that it’s the only place that some plants ever thrive.

                  There is beauty in the desert, but it takes some time to see.

                  And I’m glad I got to live there, for its beauty speaks to me.

                   Poem written by Elizabeth Grace Goodine

                  Image by George Pagan III

For thirteen years my husband and I lived in northern California where both of our children were born. We lived near incredible beauty—Lake Tahoe, Yosemite, San Francisco and the beautiful Pacific coastline. Then our family moved to the desert for about a year. The stark contrast in the scenery was a real adjustment. But I learned that the desert has its own beauty, and I learned to appreciate it. During that year I wrote this poem.

Trials in life are sometimes referred to as desert experiences. With this in mind, sometimes I re-read the poem and change the last lines to say: “I don’t understand how in this hot, dry desert, I can survive. But sometimes it is the only place that I can grow and thrive. In Psalm 63:1-8, David was in a literal desert, the Desert of Judah running for his life when he prayed the following prayer. Make it your own. Memorize it if you can: 

“O God, you are my God; I earnestly search for you. My soul thirsts for you; my whole body longs for you
in this parched and weary land where there is no water. I have seen you in your sanctuary and gazed upon your power and glory. Your unfailing love is better than life itself; how I praise you! I will praise you as long as I live, lifting up my hands to you in prayer. You satisfy me more than the richest feast. I will praise you with songs of joy. I lie awake thinking of you, meditating on you through the night. Because you are my helper, I sing for joy in the shadow of your wings. I cling to you; your strong right hand holds me securely." New Living Translation



I sat beside the ocean on a gorgeous windy day.

My eyes focused on a surfer. I watched him ride the waves.

He made it look so easy, though I knew it took great skill,

For the waves were tall and forceful, yet his body seemed so still.

There was one wave that was larger and more forceful than them all,

And I held my breath and watched because I feared the man would fall.

But the surfer and the wave seemed to have a point to prove:

To find out who was stronger, and see who could conquer who.

As the wave pursued the surfer like a lion and its prey,

The surfer never showed a sign of fear upon his face.

He let the wave propel him, and taunt him with its might,

And he kept a steady course until he knew the time was right.

Then he turned and faced the wave! He was confident and free!

And he rose above the wave, and he let it pass beneath.

As I gathered my belongings and I walked along the shore,

I thought about my life in ways I never had before.

And the lesson I remember every time I feel afraid is,

You don’t have to fear the ocean when you learn to ride the waves.

                    Poem written by Elizabeth Grace Goodine

                    Image by Thomas Ashlock

Do you ever feel as if you are being chased by the “one wave that is larger and more forceful than them all”? Although your own skills, your experience, your intuition and even your attempts at positive thinking may not be enough to keep you above water, your faith in God is enough. With him, you are up to the challenge, and even in those intense moments you can be both calm and joyful. 


                  Sometimes it is like a bright star on a clear day.

                  Sometimes it is hidden by a shadow, until the shadow moves away.

                  It is like a tool that is placed in a farmer’s hand.

                  It grows like the seed that he scatters on the land.

                  It is like a bird that flies where you cannot see.

                  It is like a diamond—precious, to be guarded carefully.

                  It is like the wind, sometimes gentle and sometimes strong,

                  But always blowing somewhere for right or for wrong.

                  Don’t underestimate its reach or its power to affect.

                  And don’t let the time slip by you, oh make sure you don’t neglect

                  To use it for the good, for the godly and the right.

                  While there’s time to make a difference, in the darkness shine a light.

                  Poem written by Elizabeth Grace Goodine

                  Image by Edgar Soto

In the Sermon on the Mount Jesus said “You are the light of the world.” He was challenging us to see ourselves as we are—influencers. He also said “…let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father.” Matthew 5, New Living Translation

Read this poem again as if you were reading it to a child. How would you help the child understand these terms as they relate to influence: bright star, sun on a clear day, hidden by a shadow, tool, seed, bird, diamond, wind, and light? How do these words relate to your own life? 


Elizabeth's description of the word "craving": It's around midnight and you think, "I need a little something sweet." So you rummage around the pantry and discover some chocolate such as Bark Thins that you feel certain would be "healthy", and you indulge. Well, let's say you basically "inhale" it. But in a few minutes you think, "I have got to get that sweet taste out of my mouth!" The term "peanut butter" flashes in large bright letters in your brain. So you grab a little spoon of peanut butter. Then you think, "Well maybe I need a couple of Wheat Thins to go with that peanut butter." Then you realize that this could go on and on. You start to feel defeated and think, "I should not have eaten any of that!" But at this point you do feel that you need a little orange juice or something to wash it all down. And then it's like, "Someone, please get me out of this kitchen right now!!"

In a similar way, how many times in life do we have a craving, a longing for something emotionally or spiritually that we cannot identify? Nothing truly satisfies us, and we become restless, and perhaps we start making poor choices. We need to remember that there is a longing deep in our hearts that cannot be satisfied by a relationship with another person, by travel to beautiful places, an exciting career, education, or by anything but by God himself. 

 My husband described his own restlessness in the words of a song: "Searching for something to really satisfy. Longing for something to fill this heart of mine. I found the answer was just a prayer away. My searching is over, and now I can say, I found in Jesus everything. I found in Jesus all I need. More than all that this world can afford, I found in Jesus my Lord."

Are you also "longing for something to really satisfy" as he wrote? Take a few moments to read John chapter four. Jesus said to the woman at the well, "Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life. John 4:13-14, (NIV) He offered to her—and he offers to you and me—living water that satisfies our souls and gives us eternal life. Be filled!