Dec. 28, 2016

Desert Travels

God’s greatest enemy is not the person who makes choices against what we believe in or want for our grandchildren. His greatest nemesis isn’t the immigrant moving into our country. God’s toughest fight is the Believer who does not uphold Christ’s teachings and refuses to live by Christ’s example. The Believer who has abandoned a world in need for a place of personal comfort; His chosen one who seeks to win regardless of what is lost; and, those who choose “self” over service.

I’ve made two trips through the spiritual desert. The first trip was facing the realization that today’s church is terribly flawed and it has ceased to represent what Christ had in mind for us in the first place. Recently, I survived my second trip into this desert. The trip began for similar reasons with different circumstances but was prompted by disillusionment just the same.

Any trip to this desert starts out bleak and parched but, in all honesty, it takes you to streams of flowing water that only God can provide. I stopped depending on tradition, familiar teaching, talking points, arguments, arrogantly quoted scripture, and I submitted instead to relying on God in His totality. The desert taught me to begin listening to learn and to understand; to stop praying to “get something” and to begin praying for ways to serve Him. The desert helps me as I seek to cultivate my ability to discuss as opposed to debate.

Both times I fought my trip to the spiritual desert. I stood on its border refusing to step in. I feared the loneliness of the desert. I feared the struggle would exhaust me. I didn’t like its dry, crusty places. Yet, in the desert my thirst is so deep that my soul is forced to search for Living Water. There is great beauty in the desert. It is God-space that helps create God-reliance.

When we stop relying on what we want to hear and choose instead to listen to what God has to say, we see the deep colors present in the desert that are not noticed by the naked eye. These deep colors are not visible from an airplane as we attempt to fly over the harshness of a mature faith’s terrain. The vivid colors and deep textures of the desert view are only seen when we walk in the desert and look for its beauty. We learn to sit in the heat of discomfort allowing God, and only God, to feed us.

There is Life in the desert. Refreshingly, there is an abundant way of living once we return from our travels. If I choose His way, His way almost always leads me to the desert. It’s interesting that John the Baptist, the one who prepared the way for our Lord, spent most of his life in the desert.

It is no surprise that a wilderness experience, the desert, immediately followed Christ’s baptism and preceded His ministry on earth. If we are truly Christ-like, why would we expect anything more or anything less? Find beauty in the desert. Don’t be afraid.

*The artwork entitled, “Painted Desert” is copyrighted along with this blogsite.