I feel I’m on a journey! The last few years have not been easy. They have been desert times in many ways.
But these last few months God has been moving me on. I can turn round and still see desert; I’m at its edge. But I am also on the edge of a river. Something in my spirit tells me I will be crossing the river soon.
There is ‘a land of brooks of water, of fountains and springs…’ ahead of me. Deuteronomy 8:7-10.
God has a place of refreshing and blessing, life and inheritance for me, a place where I can drink ‘water from the rain of heaven…’ Deuteronomy 11:10-12.
Sound good? Want to come?
There seem to be many parallels between the Israelite’s journey from the desert to the Promised Land and what I have been experiencing. I hope what I share below encourages you.
God has wonderful things for us- His heart is to bless and do us good. We don’t have to stay in the desert forever!
Some things that have characterised my desert times:
Spiritual dryness…feeling I don’t know the Father, Jesus or the Holy Spirit very well anymore…lack of friendship, fellowship & encouragement…loss of vision…nothing much happening in terms of ministry – what does is a struggle and wearying…no life in me to overflow to others……
Like the Israelites in the desert, I feel I have been wandering around in the sand for a long time!
I am desperate for better things. It is easy to look back to past spiritual highs, to times when I was used much by God, and was flowing in things of his Spirit. Likewise, the Israelites found it easy to look back to the ‘good times’ in Egypt! Numbers 11:4-6
It sometimes seems an overwhelming task to ‘get back’ to that place of intimacy with Jesus, of having the Word alive and overflowing in me again, when right now I can’t even find verses in the Bible anymore. It feels like I should go back to Sunday school!
Where do I begin?
It’s like when the Israelites looked ahead into the Promised Land. All they could see were the giants and the fortified cities Deuteronomy 1:28. An overwhelming task. They didn’t know where to start, so they didn’t. Sound familiar?
So…Why the desert?
And you shall remember that the Lord your God led you all the way these 40 years in the wilderness, to humble you and test you, to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep His commandments or not. So He humbled you, allowed you to hunger, and fed you with manna which you did not know, that He might make you know that man shall not live by bread alone; but man lives by every word that proceeds from the mouth of the Lord. Deuteronomy 8:2-3
There’s not much in the desert – there’s no food; and there’s no one to fight. Even when the Israelites did encounter the descendants of Esau, the Moabites, and the people of Ammon, they were not permitted to do battle. God told them ‘do not harass them or meddle with them.’ Deuteronomy 2:4-19
My desert experience has been similar. I’ve not had much spiritual food; and there’s not been much action!
The Israelites had to stay in the desert until ‘all the men of war’ had died. Deuteronomy 2:14-16. That took 38 years!
Hopefully, we don’t have to stay in the desert that long, but maybe we do have to stay there long enough for all our own strength to die.
Probably different things have to die for different ones of us. Things that have previously been strength to me (friends, fellowship, good quiet times, giftings) have largely disappeared from my life. A loss of identity really.
Deuteronomy 8:2-3 says that God humbles us to know what’s in our hearts. When everything else is gone, all that is left is what’s in our hearts.
I have been left desperate for change. I am hungry for the reality of Jesus. God has allowed me to hunger. He wants me hungry for Him.
I know I cannot survive the way I have been much longer. I really know now that I cannot live on ‘bread alone’. I must have the fresh life of Jesus in me – the word that ‘proceeds from the mouth of the Lord’.
So ….maybe that’s why I’ve been allowed this desert time.
Go to Desert Times Part 2 and find out HOW to keep going in the desert.
Written in Oct 2000 when I had two children – a 2 year old and an 8 month old – and life was a challenge!
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