The Blessing of the Desert

About ten years ago, I traveled to the Holy Land, to Israel, and one of the places I visited was the Negev desert. The Negev doesn’t look particularly like the desert of Dubai. Instead it stretches for miles and miles with rocky sand, dry riverbeds and deep craters. I remember the extreme climate, the blazing hot sun during the day and cold at night felt in my bones. Vegetation is sparse and animal life is hard to come by. The only sign of human life was a man leading his donkey.

Just like the Negev isn’t usually on ones bucket list; it can be similar in our spiritual lives. We often don’t want to remain, or better yet enter the desert experience usually brought on by a crisis of some sort. In the desert, it will seem as though God has walked away from us and it becomes harder and harder to have faith in Him.

The symbolic meaning of the desert in biblical terms is a stage in the journey to God. Everyone called to live a life of faith in Christ must go through this stage. If you haven’t yet gone through this stage in your life, I can assure you that sometime you will, as it is a part of our journey to heaven. Oftentimes, spiritual dryness can be a time of preparation. Almost every person in the Bible that was used mightily by God had to go through a desert time to prepare for their mission:

  • Abraham journeyed though the desert in search of the Promised Land
  • Moses’ journey started in the desert when God spoke to him through a burning bush and called him to lead the chosen peopl
  • Elijah also traveled through the desert for 40 days and 40 nights, when finally God spoke to him in soft wind to reveal to him His special mission
  • God speaks through the prophet Hosea about Israel as his Bride, who with love is leading her into the desert, “Therefore I am now going to allure her; I will lead her into the wilderness and speak tenderly to her.” Hosea 2:14
  • Jesus spent 40 days and 40 nights in the desert

When you finally enter into the desert, you will meet God. You will be able to go deeper into your spirit and discover the reality and condition of your soul, but you will also discover who God is. When you go through the desert, you will change.

My most recent desert experience that left me like a crumpled dry piece of paper lasted for about half a year. Dealing with an intense health condition left me high and dry. As I entered deeper and deeper into this desert experience, the presence of Jesus was no longer felt. “Will you still choose Me?” Jesus asked me in the dry whirling wind of the desert. “Will you still choose Me if I don’t heal you? If your pain remains? Will you still choose Me if you lose your job? Will you still choose Me if you can’t have children? If your dreams don’t come true? Will you still choose Me, if I take everything away and all you have left is Me?” I hesitated with an aching heart, “To where will I go, if not to You?” and with this answer I began to reflect on what truly mattered to me. Did my health, my job, and my desire for a family take more importance than Jesus? Would I really choose Him if all was lost?

In the desert a few things will happen:

  • The desert will bring out what is hidden deep within your soul. It brings to light our human weakness, , sinfulness and hearts that have been hardened. We stand face to face with the overwhelming truth of who we are- helpless without God.
  • The desert not only reveals the truth of your soul, but also changes you spiritually. The desert is a blessing that allows you to overcome lukewarmness of faith, because in the desert, you will need God.

It is certain that one day you will have to enter into this journey. If by some chance, some experience, God allows a difficult situation in your life, maybe even a crisis, it is then that you have to remember that it is a blessing- the blessing of the desert. If you are finding that you are now in the desert, be thankful to God for this experience. Thank Him that it is hard, that you are sick, lonely or misunderstood because in all of this, you will draw near to Him. Know that He is present and that He loves you.

Don’t be afraid of the desert. It is a place of the birthing of dynamic faith, the kind of faith that completely changes a person. You will no longer be lukewarm, but will become an ember burning with faith in him. You will no longer depend on yourself, you will depend on Him. He will become your lifeline.

Let the lyrics from If You Want Me Too by Ginny Owens bless your Spirit:

The pathway is broken and the signs are unclear
And I don’t know the reason why You brought me here
But just because You love me the way that You do
I’m gonna walk through the valley if You want me to