Desert Places

Have you ever been in a desert place?

You know, when life feels dry, empty of joy or purpose. Seasons where day-to-day we go through the motions but feel lifeless inside.  We still believe in God, but He appears to be distant.

Many years ago, I had the opportunity to go to Tucson, Arizona. As a Canadian, the warmth and dryness felt lovely on my skin, but desert heat and sun are very different from green, tree-rich, northern heat and sun.

I quickly learned Arizona sun makes your skin sizzle after 15 minutes of exposure.

The lovely couple we were staying with, wanting us to have a complete experience, took us to the desert museum, which entailed being outside a great deal. They made sure we went prepared with water bottles, hats, sunscreen and even bandanas, filled with absorbent material, soaked in ice-cold water, to wear around our necks.

But desert places are relentless and unforgiving, even when you go with resources to combat the dryness and heat.

This pale-skinned Canadian was no match for the intensity of it.

My head and exposed skin began to burn from the blazing sun. The bottled water was cool on my parched throat but insufficient to combat the constant dryness. Around my neck, the bandana wasn’t doing much good either. Resoaking it in cold water and plunking it under my hat, sweet relief flooded my broiling brain. Despite all my efforts, nausea began to flow through me, my thinking became foggy, and my legs felt like lead. Mentioning I didn’t feel well, our host took one look at me and quickly guided me into the building nearby. He sat me down and forced me to drink more cold water and stay in the shelter of the air-conditioned building. Sweat began to bead on every surface of my skin, drawing the heat out. Slowly I began to feel better.

Sometimes when we find ourselves in desert places, the best thing we can do is find shelter and rest.

In Acts 7:23, Stephen states that Moses was forty years old when he fled Egypt to be a shepherd in Midian, a desert place. The Lord had Moses stay there for forty years before calling him to lead the Israelites out of Egypt. That is a long time to be in a desert place. However, the Lord sheltered Moses and gave him rest from Pharaoh there.  He used that desert place to prepare him to shepherd the Lord’s people and lead them to freedom.

When we are in desert places feeling separated from God and our people, dry, blind and thirsting for purpose or a path, perhaps God wants us to shelter in Him and rest until He brings us to the next oasis. He may be waiting for us to learn something, physically reenergize or for the right timing.

Whatever it might be, it is for our good and His glory. He has not forsaken you or left you behind. Moses must have felt that way shepherding stinky, stubborn sheep in the wilderness God was through with him. But what a glorious future the Lord had in store for him, however, tainted past, timidity, stumbling lips and all!

Take heart dear ones!  Our loving God has a purpose and a plan for our lives and will see it to completion.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

Jeremiah 29:11 NIV

“And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Christ Jesus.”

Philippians 1:6 ESV

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