Treasure in Your Desert
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Now, we've driven some pretty desolate stretches of the U.S. For a guy who used to wait 'til the last minute to get gas, those stretches were life-changing. A couple of bad experiences and you become mister "fill up at half a tank." But America's desert and wilderness stretches take a back seat to some of the wilderness of the Middle East; especially some of the desert traversed by God's ancient people as they went from Egypt to the Promised Land. Recently, a writer named Bruce Feiler decided to physically retrace some of the geography of the first five books of the Bible. Including the still-challenging Sinai wilderness where God's people wandered for 40 years. He spent time with the nomadic Bedouins who make that wilderness their home. He walked the hot sands, the daunting mountains of that wilderness. And, in the process, he found himself on an unanticipated journey of spiritual discovery. And he learned something about why God led His children through the desert - and why He still does. Here's what this author said: "In the desert, there's no such thing as independence - only dependence."
I think it started when we were little kids with words like these, "I can do it myself!" And we've been trying to do it ourselves ever since - even when it comes to totally trusting God. Oh, we believe in Him. We go to His meetings. We try to live by His commandments, but we want to drive. We're control freaks, especially when it comes to the things or people that really matter to us. We can make it happen. We can make it work. We can think of something. We can fix it.
Then comes the desert; a season in your life when the bottom drops out. Things and people that you've depended on either aren't there or aren't enough. It's dry. The heat is intense. You're worn out physically and emotionally, and there's no road to show you the way to go. Welcome to the wilderness. But before you give up or give in, remember the desert is part of the plan. It was for God's ancient people. It was for John the Baptist. It was for Paul. It was for the Son of God, and it is for you.
Here's what God says about the desert stretches - it's in Deuteronomy 8:2-4, our word for today from the Word of God. He says: "Remember how the Lord your God led you all the way in the desert...to humble you and to test you in order to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep His commands. He humbled you, causing you to hunger and then feeding you with manna, which neither you nor your fathers had known, to teach you that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord."
OK, God says He leads us into the desert to humble us; to bring us to a place where the Lord is all we have. Because that's when we learn that the Lord is all we need. "In the desert, there's no such thing as independence - only dependence." When you come to your Lord in total desperation, running on empty, you open yourself up to an experience of God's power and God's grace you can't get any other way.
And just in case you're not sure you can make it through this desert, listen to what your Heavenly Father will do for you there: Deuteronomy 1:31 says, "In the desert...you saw how the Lord your God carried you, as a father carries his son, all the way." And like any tired little child, you'll go much farther with your Father carrying you than you could ever go on your own. The desert may not be pleasant. It may stress you, it may strip you, but there's treasure you'll only find there. Because you'll find the treasure that is discovered only when God is all you've got.