He turned rivers into a desert, flowing springs into thirsty ground, and fruitful land into a salt waste, because of the wickedness of those who lived there. He turned the desert into pools of water and the parched ground into flowing springs; there he brought the hungry to live, and they founded a city where they could settle. Psalm 107:33-36
I wish I could say that I’ve stepped foot onto an actual desert. But then again, thinking about standing atop a living dune of sand with nothing but mirages glistening in every direction is not my idea of a pleasant experience. Life seems to beg for mercy in the desert, crying out to but a dew drop to quench the thirst — to give life. And yet, it’s beautiful. Adorned with brilliance and elegance, sculpted upon an ever shifting canvas of sand, the desert is a place of renewal, dependence and discovery.
The desert is a place that whispers no words, but instead churns more questions than answers. It’s a place that gives no breaks and no hint of relief. A desert can be personal, God makes certain of that! It’s hand-made, different for each one of us — and trust me, everyone will encounter a desert at some point.
The desert experience is found throughout the Bible in many of the familiar stories. Joseph’s desert was him being betrayed and spending years as a slave. The Israelites wandered throughout the desert for forty years. David ran from Saul in the desert. Paul spent his converted life wrestling with sin in his desert. Lazarus became an example to all of new life that comes from the desert. And Jesus stepped into the desert for forty days to reenact our own desert journeys by fasting and facing the temptations of Satan. All of these experiences face the reality of their own desert while holding tight to the hope of God’s Word and promises.
It becomes a place where all that once sustained you is no longer there to satisfy the cravings of the flesh. It’s a place of spiritual purging that cleanses the soul and dries out the tongue that no longer thirsts for junk. Instead, it defines the true thirst of our hearts. The desert becomes the best place for God to wilt away the false selves and bring life to an authentic self.
Lord Jesus, in my desert are many mirages. My eyes fail me, my senses deceive me to think that what my mind thinks is there is true. But I know you are the only Truth to trust and it is not found by my senses. It is found in the faith of knowing who you are in me and I in you! While I’m in my desert may I encounter the gift of your presence each day. And in your presence, as I am so thirsty, may I drink from the abundance of your well of living water! It is in knowing you are with me in the desert I experience your protective love that gives me the strength to continue in this journey.
O God, you are my God, earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you, my body longs for you, in a dry and weary land where there is no water. Psalm 63:1