Monday, March 30, 2009

LINGERing in the Desert

Can I just say it right now? I'm not a desert dweller. I like trees... and grass... and well, green. That's not to say I don't appreciate the desert. My husband introduced me to the desert in order to meet his parents (and again to announce our engagement). And I've visited many times over the nearly 30 years we've been married. The desert has some qualities I adore... Like the brilliance of the night sky and scape of the dunes.

Yet it is dry. Very dry.

... And sometimes we dwell in the spiritual desert. And it is hard. Our prayers become unfocused. Our hearts become anxious. And we long for a huge spiritual drink. Sometimes, however, we remain thirsty.

Desert experiences are all through the Bible. One of the most notable: the Israelites wandered in one for 40 year before they (the next generation) were allowed to enter the Promised Land. According to Deuteronomy 8:2 (NIV), the Lord led them "all the way in the desert these forty years, to humble you and to test you in order to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep his commands." And during this time, He showed them many signs and wonders to encourage their faith in Him. Their clothes didn't even wear out. Can you imagine?

And then there was David. David escaped from Saul, and "stayed in the desert stronghold and in the hills of the Desert of Ziph" Day after day Saul searched for him, but God did not give David into his hands." 1 Samuel 23:14 (NIV). The desert, though physically uncomfortable to live in, was a refuge for David - a safe place. It was in the desert that he won some of his greatest victories, yet wrote some of the most heart wrenching Psalms.

... And then, Jesus. "Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert to be tempted by the devil." Matthew 4:1 (NIV). Our Lord was led into the desert - BY THE SPIRIT - where He was tempted by the Devil for 40 days. That's over a month. In my book, that's a long time. Yet, the victory of Jesus' outcome was nothing less than well... Victorious!

It seems none of the desert experiences in the Bible were pleasant. But read them again. They were faith building. They were safe. And they led to victory.

How do you react when you find yourself in a spiritual desert? How do you LINGER with the Lord? Do you LINGER with Him, or do you isolate yourself from everyone, including Him?

Desert dwelling takes survival skills. And there are necessary items one must have in possession for such a journey. First and foremost, is the Word of God. It's not always easy to concentrate on the Word when you're thirsty, but it is vital. In it, you will find your nourishment. Secondly, you must stay in communication with the Father. The words you would like to speak become few and far between as you listen, but permission is granted to cry out (see David).

What else? Tell me about ways you've learned to LINGER in the deserts of your spiritual journeys. We all need a drink now and then. What better place to offer one...


tonya said...

In my walk a desert has been a place of isolation. I haven't always thought of it as dry, but a place to get away from all the distractions of life. A place where the Lord has my full attention. :)

That is where He has done some of His deepest work in me. When the water isn't easily available, you have to dig deep to find it. Normally as I am digging deeper, I find blockages that the Lord reveals to me, as I am seeking Him. Then my break through happens.

Drinking from streams in the desert makes you more compassionate, for you understand thirst and loneliness. Then you can give it to others.

Jan Parrish said...

In the desert, I'm parched, weary, and often to tired to do speak. So I simply whisper the name of Jesus and just rest and let him minister to me.

dwanreed said...

When walking through the desert, I strive to learn what lessons God is trying to teach me. I study and pray more in order to hear God's word. The purpose of my desert time is often for discipline. I know God is refining me as gold. He is moving away the dross so that I will shine. It is difficult to be thankful when in the midst of trials, but later, I can rejoice and say, "Thank you God for taking me through parched land and being with me the entire way."

Kay Day said...

When I am in the desert, I am weak, weary, helpless. I don't have the wherewithal to dig for water, or even to raise my head and look for it. I don't get in the Word like I should. I just lie there and cry.
And listen. Because it's very quiet in the dessert and I have heard Him more clearly in some of my desert times than at any other.

Nishant said...

Drinking from streams in the desert makes you more compassionate

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