Alaskan in the Desert: New Meaning To the Term Fish Out of Water

Guest Post by Sara Kernan

On May 28th, 2016 I said a very final yes to a very final life change. I married my high school sweetheart, childhood best friend, and my hero (if I’m being honest and mushy about it).


From this yes, the rest of the day was a blur of white tulle, laughter, and a lot (a lot, a lot) of hugging and before I knew it I was three plane rides away from the day and the town and I was starting a new and exciting adventure in my life. There is something very beautiful about being young and married. There is also something very beautiful about letting go and letting God. The second of the two I am very bad at.

To bring you up to speed, this was not the timeline my life was suppose to be. You see, I had all my ducks in a row. First step? I got accepted to Moody Bible Institute and moved to Chicago, Illinois.


I did the traditional “small town girl meets big city” bit and I absolutely loved it. I loved the clatter of the trains. I love remembering that there is such a big world out there. I love learning Chicago’s heart and hurts. But I digress with my plan…all I had to do was: get accepted into desired school, graduate debt free in four years, and then marry Matt, live in a white picket fence home, etc, etc, etc.

Nothing against white picket fences, they just aren’t in the cards for me when I let God be God in my life. (In fact, my current fence is really more of a dusty chain link fence that has given into fatigue in some areas).

It wasn’t like May 28th was spontaneous. On the contrary! Matt and I (and a score of others in our communities) prayed and prayed and prayed about God’s timing. Lord your will be done. I was so desperately afraid I was going to miss something or mess up God’s will.

I am humbled to remember that God is so much bigger than me. I am humbled to remember God is faithful and hears our prayers. I am humbled to remember that Papa God cares about His people. I am humbled to remember that I can surprise God.

However, God really threw me for a loop because I thought my plan was, too be honest, pretty awesome and God-glorifying. It made sense. It was perfect. Flawless really. My saying yes at twenty to my love was more than just a yes to be his wife (though what an honor and a beautiful commitment that is too) but it was a yes to what I know God has been tugging at my heart about. It was a yes to the Holy Spirit that was no longer whispering, but shouting at me to listen. Listening has never been my strong suit, I’m more of a “I-can-talk-over-you-until-I-win-or-you-get-exhausted” sort of communicator.

I realized that the school that D.L. Moody founded had become somewhat of an idol for me. I didn’t want to leave Chicago early because that meant going to online school. That meant leaving the prestigious school I fought to get into, I wept with my acceptance letter in hand, and the city itself had change me so radically for the better. No God! I don’t WANT to do that. I want my love to be here, I want my life to be here, I want all my ducks to be in a row, HERE.

I imagine God hears some of my conversation with Him and just softly chuckles. I imagine this chuckle not as patronizing but as omniscient, omnipresent, and omnipotent and, above all, loving. I imagine God just thinking (or discussing, maybe He is a verbal processor too and He’s got the whole heavenly host in on this conversation) Oh Sara, you don’t even know that what I want to give you is so much more.

I never thought I would need to be brought to the desert to see God’s provision as the desert seems to be so desolate, so hopeless and so barren. But oh, has God proven me otherwise.

Here, I run outside when it rains and marvel at his grace.

Here, I can imagine how the Israelites felt in their wandering those forty long years in the desert.

Here, I am challenged to face myself head on as I am stripped of the distractions that the city or the natural beauty I am familiar with provide.


The desert is rough folks. I hate how 120 degrees outside is a thing. I hate that my phone will shut down because it’s “too hot”. I hate how when I roll down the window it feels like a hair dryer on blast on my face. I hate how the ocean is so close but so far. I hate how Chipotle isn’t close to me. I hate how people think I live in “Oh! California!” but when they see where I live they go “Oh… California…” I hate how I haven’t exactly acclimated but I am just used to being sweaty standing still. I hate how I get cold when it’s 80 degrees now. There is plenty about the desert that challenges me and isn’t comfortable.

I think maybe that’s the point. Since when does growth come when things are easy, familiar, or comfortable?

I’m so glad that God wrecked my plans. My plans were so shortsighted and so tight-fisted. It’s easy to say “Your Will be done” but the application is a much grittier, painful, and humbling experience.

I was driving down the familiar back roads around my house yesterday between running errands, working, and enjoying the fellowship of friends. I almost had to pull over as I was overwhelmed with the thought of “When did this become home? Did I ever think I would live here?” It was a strange question to ask but I realized how comfortable Morongo Road felt to drive down. I realize how familiar the faces I commune with had become.

I was amazed at how the ministry vision given to me happened out here, for here. How if I had ignored God’s calling, I would have missed the beautiful plan for ministry He has out here for me. These are big dreams I never had until out here. I’m in the works of potentially launching a coffee house ministry and I would love prayer for this year as things get started. Right now this ministry is simply on a giant sticky note from midnight revelations, but I trust the doors will open if it’s meant to be. I have no reason not to trust and I know that I am brought to exactly where I should be.

God has lead me through mountains, over oceans, through cities, and through the desert and He is faithful to continue and dear friend, I am excited for you, knowing He is faithful to bring you through too.

Sara from In The Waiting Place

Before you go:

When and where did God take you into the unexpected?

Did you fight it? 


2 thoughts on “Alaskan in the Desert: New Meaning To the Term Fish Out of Water

  1. Oh Sara, from our Chicago visit you know my story and how much I relate to yours! For me it was being the happy piano major playing and traveling for gospel teams when my hurt wrist sent me another direction. That direction was being a perfect little missionary for a year in Peru, and then God brought me home, sick after 5 months. After a miserable semester at home I was back to my Christian college, planning my life- college, seminary, some type of ministry…but God sent Bill to me. 🙂 We happily married and headed into ministry together, but not the ministry I expected. We left seminary to join the Coast Guard which sent us to law school. Our life became our ministry- moving to many states and helping in so many churches. God’s dream for us was so much bigger than we could imagine, and of course, so much better! I didn’t really fight His dream; He just nudged me and I fell headfirst into them as He caught me!

    Liked by 1 person

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