Paging through the story of God and his people Israel, you start seeing an odd thing – the amount of time these people spent in the desert … in solitude … wandering around, seemingly purposeless and without destination. Many times they brought it on themselves and God had to teach them his ways the hard way, but other times being in the desert was merely part of the greater journey … to a greater place.
Have you ever been in the “desert,” not knowing what it is you’re doing or where you’re going with your life?
Or maybe you’re still lost after many years, not being able to overcome something that happened long ago or someone in your past.
Have you ever sat down at your desk or on the side of your bed not knowing what the heck to do next?
Completely plan-less, utterly confused, totally dumb-struck, yet believing there has to be more to life?? Surely God, your Abba, must have had more in mind for you. Ever been there? Maybe you’re still there?
Now what I’m going to say next might come as a total surprise to you, but without “desert times” green pastures don’t make any sense. Or have any value.
Freedom without imprisonment is not freedom. Light without darkness is not light. Rest without exhaustion makes no sense, for what are you resting from?
Desert times – doubt, disbelief, anger, grief, fear – HAVE to happen … they WILL happen … the important question is what we do with it?
What I know is that many people try and avoid these times, try and stay away from the desert times. They’ll rather pretend they’re “camping at an oasis” but in reality they’re basically “holding on to mirages.” Do you know what I mean?
You can settle for a lie, pretending that everything’s hunky dory, putting on a mask of competence and certainty for all to see, but the truth is you’re actually thirsty as hell.
God knows it. You know it …
And here’s the thing, God it seems, can do more for someone who’s in the desert and accepts it than someone holding on to mirages. Not because He’s limited in power but because the receiver is unaware of their need.
Desert times are needed for growth, to reach a destination.
Mirages are fake glimpses of hope that keep you imprisoned in the jail of unfulfilment. And as long as you settle for images of water, you can’t find the real oasis because you’re not looking for it.
You can’t live life fully while pretending you’re living fully. Embrace the desert. Embrace the drought. Embrace the silence. Embrace the struggle. Why? Because it seems that’s where God seems to spend much of his time seeking out thirsty travelers – as did Jesus.
Then Jesus told this story to some who had great confidence in their own righteousness and scorned everyone else: “Two men went to the Temple to pray. One was a Pharisee, and the other was a despised tax collector. The Pharisee stood and prayed this prayer to himself: ‘I thank you, God, that I am not like other people—cheaters, sinners, adulterers. I’m certainly not like that tax collector! I fast twice a week, and I give you a tenth of my income.’
“But the tax collector stood at a distance and dared not even lift his eyes to heaven as he prayed. Instead, he beat his chest in sorrow, saying, ‘O God, be merciful to me, for I am a sinner.’ I tell you, this sinner, not the Pharisee, returned home justified before God. For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”
Luke 18:9-14 (NLT)
May light and peace fill your life.