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what you didn’t realize about the desert

Six years ago today I was standing in Joshua Tree National Park, on the mother of all road trips, having an epiphany about the desert.

I will never forget the tiny, bright flowers, the suspenseful stillness in the air, the trees and rocks and forests of dozens of different cacti species, the sunset there.

It was a revelation.

Deserts are spiritual too. Sometimes we are walking through one, thirsty, looking for water, slow, unable to think about the next season, full of survival mode, full of need, tired, looking for shelter, longing for an oasis, encompassed by drought.

But certain plants only grow in a desert climate. It takes a certain strength and resilience to be drought tolerant, to endure high light and heat.

Certain qualities/ministries/desires will only grow in your soul in a wilderness season. Perhaps in a perfect world, in Eden, before the fall, there were no deserts. Perhaps all was fertile, flourishing, unified, balanced. And Heaven will thus be.

But for now, we must contend with deserts on our way to the promised land. As we journey toward milk and honey in various parts of our life, and, ultimate milk and honey: Heaven. We have desert seasons. And this world is a desert we sojourn through on our way Home.

There is much value in a desert. Much life. Much to learn in the heat and extremes and seeming barrenness. Look closer. And closer. There is determination here. Deep root systems. Gratitude for Holy Spirit rain. Bright light. Burning bushes. Altars of worship. And His voice. He speaks His promises in the desert. Look up. Lift up your eyes. Your help WILL come from the Maker of Heaven and earth.

Trust Him. He who led you in will lead you out. On dry land like bookends. There is a timing on everything. You are not forgotten. You are not forsaken.

Trust trust trust.

I am studying the Old Testament in school right now. I have a love for the Hebrew language, so I’m always looking words up. One of the Hebrew words for trust is chacah. It means “to flee for protection, to confide in, to have hope, to make into a refuge, to put trust in.”

Strong verbs, those. You can do all of this in the desert. You don’t have to wait until you arrive at your intended destination. You don’t have to do this alone. Throw yourself into His shade. You don’t have to be dignified about it. Be desperate. Be honest and messy and scared. Be a child of God.

But trust. KNOW that good is coming.

There are rivers ahead, and fulfilled promises. There is possession of a homeland, miracles and victories and legacy. There is this whole plan unfolding in your life, through your life, secretly, deeply, irrevocably.

The desert is only part of the story.

The heat is keeping you focused. The loneliness is keeping you soft and careful, humble. The longing for shelter feeds your hope. The hope activates your faith. The thirst is just a propellant. So much is happening here.

Surely the Lord is in THIS dry, hot, sparse, uncomfortable place.

You just didn’t realize it.


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