Tuesday, September 26, 2006
We've got a close friend who recently moved from Arizona to the Midwest. She loves the green. There's not much of that in the semi-arid area that she's from. And she loves all the things that bloom in her new part of the country, but that's not to say she doesn't miss what she grew up with. She really misses the beauty of the Southwest. Some might travel through the long, largely barren stretches of her part of the country and not see much beauty, but it's there. Sure, it's a different beauty from the lush, green parts of America, but there is a stark, wild, wide-open majesty in the desert; a beauty all its own.
I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Desert Beauty."
Every one of us gets to spend some time in the desert, or the wilderness, as it's often called in the Bible. It's not our permanent home, but it sure is part of the journey. You may be in one of those difficult dry spells right now. It's time to remember that while the desert is hard, it has a beauty all its own. There are things you see there that you can't see when you're in the green and blooming times.
God's ancient people learned that when they spent their time in the wilderness. God describes some of that in Deuteronomy 1:30-33, our word for today from the Word of God. "The Lord your God who is going before you will fight for you, as He did ... before your very eyes in the desert. There you saw how the Lord your God carried you, as a father carries his son ... The Lord your God ... went ahead of you on your journey, in fire by night and in a cloud by day, to search out places for you to camp and to show you the way you should go."
Wilderness times can be tough for several reasons - you feel depleted, the devil does everything he can to exploit this vulnerable time with his lies, fear of what may happen starts to take over, and sometimes it just plain hurts.
But what we just read from God's Word on desert times reminds us of several very important encouragements which the dry time tends to make us forget. First, the desert is part of the plan. It's God who leads you into a wilderness time, knowing that it will take a wilderness to take you to the next level in Him. Even though the devil was all over Jesus when He spent 40 days in the wilderness, the Bible makes it very clear that the Lord led Him into the wilderness. The God who loves you passionately has decided that wilderness is what will bring you the greatest good and Him the greatest glory right now.
Secondly, the wilderness is a place of miracles. It was in the wilderness that God's people saw manna come from heaven, water come from rocks, and a pillar of cloud and fire providing daily guidance. If you'll remain faithful, even when you don't have the feelings, God will show you His power in the desert in ways you'll never see it in the Promised Land. The third desert encouragement is that the wilderness is a growing time. Paul saw his greatest revelations of God (the things we now read in the New Testament) while he was in the desert. Jesus emerged from the wilderness full of the Holy Spirit and power and exploded into His public ministry. God wants to use the desert time to drive you more deeply into Him because He's all you've got. And as you go deeper, you develop a new spiritual power that prepares you for a whole new level of impact on the other side of the wilderness.
Two other desert encouragements - the wilderness will not last forever. There's a Promised Land on the other side. And the desert is a place where God will carry you when you've got nothing left - like a daddy carries a tired little boy to places that little boy could never go in his own strength. And there's something very special about collapsing on the shoulder of your all-loving and all-powerful Heavenly Father. Your assignment in the desert: keep showing up, keep being faithful even without the feelings. If you're in a desert stretch, trust the One who's allowed or directed you to be there. And while you're there, don't miss the strange beauty of the desert.