Getting Out Of The Desert

Driving between the cities of Baku and Ganji in Azerbaijan requires crossing a desert. We managed the trip once; it was an incredibly hot day. I was happy we didn’t have any car trouble out in the middle of nowhere. Visiting a desert is kind of fun. It’s such a different landscape from the rocks and woods that I grew up in. But I wouldn’t want to live in a desert – it’s too barren, too empty and too dry.

We often use the image of a desert to describe those periods of spiritual drought in our lives. Those times when we feel that we are stumbling around without direction and drying up from thirst. Our first reaction, our impulse really, is just to find a way out of that place; we simply want the suffering to end.

Israel spent 40 years wandering around in the wilderness, the desert of Sinai. I can’t image the hardships and discomfort that must have brought. The only way out was to let God guide them. And the only way out of our desert times is to let God guide us.  When we find ourselves in the wilderness, our priority shouldn’t be to get out but rather to draw near to God. If we can draw closer to God then he will lead us out.

In Numbers 9 God gave Israel a sign “the cloud covered it (the tabernacle) by day and the appearance of fire by night” (9:16). Whenever the cloud moved, the people packed up and followed. They were following the presence of God.

Often in our desert experiences, we long to be rescued and delivered. Our cry is simply, “Get me out of here”. God had a plan and purpose for taking Israel through the desert. Ultimately our Christian life is about following God, our journey with him, through the deserts and the forests.

Israel did not wander in the wilderness alone; God was there. The Bible says there is no place where God cannot be found. I think that includes our desert times. You are not lost; God knows exactly where you are. Look for his presence and wait for him to guide you out.