As I was writing this blog, I tried to remember if I had ever been in an actual, literal desert. Then, I recalled the time I visited The Holy Land many years ago. Our air-conditioned tour bus drove us to and through several desert areas: The Negev, The Judean Desert, and The Desert of Zin. It was barren, parched, and lifeless…except for the occasional Bedouin shepherd and his flock. We only stayed long enough to satisfy our curiosity and take a few pictures. In just a few minutes we would be back at our Four-Star hotel in Jerusalem. No sweat – literally.
It has been my experience that God often appears to us when we are at our lowest.
Moses was eighty years old, minding his own business, far from the spotlight, ready for retirement. Moses was in the desert. He had not come to the desert with a sightseeing tour or to photograph the landscape. Moses had come to the desert to live. And, furthermore, he was on the backside of the desert. It was about as far away from anywhere as anyone could be (Exodus 3:1).
His location wasn’t very attractive. Neither was his vocation. He was a shepherd for his father-in-law Jethro, carving out his livelihood with a boy’s job. He was about as far removed from civilization as anyone could be, as broken as anyone had ever been, and as lonely as anyone could imagine.
Our desert experiences do not occur in a literal desert. Our wilderness experience might involve a stubborn physical condition that won’t go away, an unfaithful spouse, a rebellious teenager, or countless other issues.
In our desert experiences, when we least expect it, God may be trying to get our attention.
There’s nothing glamorous, colorful, or attractive about the desert. The desert is a better metaphor of the Christian life than the lush pastures of comfort and ease. The only redeeming value is that it is the place where we cannot live without the presence and intervention of God in our lives. He becomes our Oasis in the desert.
Remember, it was in that dark and stark place that God came to Moses with a message that would forever change his life. As God spoke from a burning bush, the layers of Moses’ resistance were peeled away, and his true calling and destiny were uncovered, and ultimately pursued (Exodus 3:1-21).
We shouldn’t curse the desert; instead, we should look for God. When we feel low, broken, and alone, it may just be God’s burning bush moment in our lives. He is using your wilderness experience to get your attention.
And one last thought: you will not die of spiritual thirst in your desert, even though it may feel like you will. God has refreshing wells of living water to quench your thirst. “For I am about to do something new. See, I have already begun! Do you not see it? I will make a pathway through the wilderness. I will create rivers in the dry wasteland” (Isaiah 43:19).