I was on a trip with my family recently that had us driving through some desert terrain. Being a Canadian girl, it was fascinating to see for the first thirty seconds or so. But it had me thinking, about God and deserts. Because I suddenly realized, He created those deserts on purpose.
Lest you think I’m not very bright, it’s not that I previously believed they were made by someone else. I just never gave it much thought at all. In the back of my mind I think I thought of deserts as a ‘bad’ thing, much like when we go through a spiritual desert, or a time when our faith feels dried out and dying. So if it’s ‘bad’, it can’t be from Him, right?
But as we drove on forever through that barren land, I thought of all the times God used the desert for His purposes in the Bible. What feels like bad to us can still be a part of His plan. I thought of Moses and the Israelites wandering through it all those years. It allowed God to prove that He was the God who Provides. (And it also provided a good place to give them a time out when they disobeyed.) I thought of Jesus going there to fast, providing clarity that He really was Who He said He was after being tested.
I thought of all the living things God created specifically to survive in the desert, both flora and fauna. He didn’t design the whole earth and then skip over a few areas. He doesn’t forget or make mistakes. This is a part of His grand design.
So, if He did make this place on purpose, what is it there for? What is He trying to say?
Think of the all the kinds of life that live there. Amazing, really. They learn to live on so little. They learn to store up what they need for as long as they need. They learn to adapt. They learn to live on hope and faith, and very little other outside support. Truly, they are at the total mercy of the One who brings rain and breathes life.
And THAT is something we can learn from the desert, and I suspect why our own spiritual deserts are a part of His plan for us as well.
Faith comes easy when it’s being fed in abundance from everywhere around us, like rain falling on the plants and allowing them to soak up as much as they care to. We really do live in the land of milk and honey when we are being supported and fed in our faith.
But can we survive when the rain stops? Does our own faith survive when the only Living Water we have to sustain us doesn’t come from anywhere else, and all we have is whatever Living Water is inside of us? Yes, He absolutely provides all we need. But have we received all that He’s offering us? Have we let Him dig that well down deep enough that the Spring of Life won’t run dry when others aren’t pouring into it?
When there is nothing else for us to focus on, nothing to entertain or distract. Just tediously long days of survival; waiting on Him, hoping, praying, trusting He will bring rain again. Like a cactus living off the water it holds inside when the world outside is scorching and unbearable – is our faith, that Living Water He gives, strong enough to keep us abiding in Him, trusting in Him, waiting on Him?
That is what a desert is for. It’s a test. It strips away everything else – and leaves just us, and Him. And it’s there that we see if what we’re basing our faith on is strong enough to live on. If the well has been dug deep, like God wants.
In the desert, only the strong survive. Will we?