Recently someone told us that we were rubbing off on them. This individual continued by saying, “I dreamed we were going to sell everything and move into a house in the desert.” Initially, I discounted this statement as simply processing our visit the night before, but I have come to believe it carries much more weight. That suspicion was validated when another friend offered the same insight into this particular piece of the story.
The house in the desert is where Mark and I currently are; literally and figuratively. This thought had already occurred to me before my friend’s validating comment, however what she said next was a new thought that I needed to unpack. So, settle in as we look at her observation, “Good things happen in the desert.”
Living in the desert
Deserts are reported to cover a third of the earth, and they don’t have to be hot to qualify for the designation. They can be cold – think Antarctica and beautiful – think Colorado. To qualify as a desert, though, there must be a lack of moisture. However, a lack does not mean an absence.
It is possible to sustain life in the desert. While water is sparse, the soil is rich with nutrients for growth. Deserts have plant and animal inhabitants that have adapted to the harsh conditions. They know how to use the water efficiently and how to mitigate the detrimental effects of heat.
When I think about stories from the Bible that involve the desert, I tend to jump to the wandering for 40 years aspect. However, when we look past the time frame, there were a lot of other things happening. In addition to experiencing a consequence for disobedience, the Israelites were being taught and restored to God. Their shoes didn’t wear out. Their clothes didn’t disintegrate. They had food and obviously enough water to survive. They learned dependence on their Creator rather than self-reliance.
When I apply some of these observations personally, I realize that God is teaching and preparing me. I am having to depend on God for sustenance and sufficient water for my body, soul, and spirit. In the absence of abundance, I have to learn how to find the water and use it efficiently.
In the natural, it becomes necessary at times to ration water. Similarly, it may become necessary to tuck away special times of corporate worship and biblical teaching to sustain you through times that you are not in your normal routine, time when an unforeseen crisis has hit, or you are operating for the time right at the edge of your healthy boundaries. Familiar Scriptures and hymns or praise songs often come to mind for me during such times. Fortunately, Jesus said He is the Living Water and that Source never runs dry.
There is a depth of connection to that Living Water that sustains one even when living in the desert. That depth provides assurance of survival without a constant need for light soaking rains. Yes, these times are refreshing but dependance on constant light rains does not develop deep roots.
Sharing your water
One of the ways animals can survive in the desert is to eat from plants that store water. There are times when you may be the one that is planted and providing water to those around you. Other times, you may be the one in search of life sustaining plants. Think about the biblical mandates of living in community and mentoring/discipling. We can see some of the instructions in these passages:
Psalm 133:1 It is good for God’s people to live in unity
Matthew 28:19-20 Go to the nations baptising and teaching believers
Acts 2:46-47 They worshiped, ate, and enjoyed favor with each other
Romans 12:4-5, 16 The body needs each of its parts, live in peace with each other
Colossians 3:16 Teach and encourage each other with Godly principles
2 Timothy 4:1-2 Preach the Word in season and out, correct, rebuke, encourage
Hebrews 10:24-25 Continue to meet together, encouraging each other in love and good deeds
When God designed the ecosystem of the desert, He created plants that could withstand the elements in addition to sustaining other life. Are you looking for water or sharing your water? Regardless of which category you currently fall into, I would implore you to evaluate how you are going about it.
Refreshing Living Water
All of our desert experiences are likely different, but God is great at preparing us and meeting us in our desert times. Know that you are not alone even when it seems you cannot turn to those around you for encouragement and support. God is there and He has designed a way to sustain you.
How are you learning to depend on your Creator rather than indulging in self-reliance? What are some of the ways He is providing for you despite your immediate circumstances or environment? How are you helping others in the desert? Where do you find The Living Water and get refreshed by Him?
You may be in a desert, but remember, good things happen in the desert.
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