When I met my husband I was living in Kalgoorlie, which is about as far removed from my previous experience as possible. I grew up in New Zealand with green rolling hills, native bush land, and an abundance of rain, and on moving to Western Australia I lived in Perth with it’s blue skies, sunshine and white sandy beaches. So you can imagine my surprise to discover the red dust of Kalgoorlie, which sticks to everything, and the kilometers of flat, hard and barren land. Temperatures are regularly above 40degrees in summer and the air is hot and dry.
However it was here in the dry, dusty red desert that I encountered God in a new and life changing way. God brought me to a literal desert, but I had also been wandering in my own wilderness. But it was in this far from anywhere place, with a need to know where and what to do next that I found and heard His voice, and His leading into the life He had prepared for me..
The desert or wilderness places in our lives is the term often used to describe a tough time, or when we feel like God has disappeared. We can see these wilderness places in our lives as a negative thing, and something to be survived and got through as quickly as possible.
However as I learnt, where we might see the desert as a bad thing, the Bible often refers to the desert as the place where God lives and speaks. It was to the desert that Abraham was called and in which He discovered and came to know God. It was in the desert that Moses, Isaiah, Elijah, Hagar, David, John the Baptist and many more, right through to Jesus heard from God.
The Hebrew word for wilderness or desert is MIDBAR and it is indeed a physical place. But in Hebrew it also means “the place of the word”. The desert it seems has a divine purpose, and God is very intentional when He leads us to, or we find ourselves there.
When we’re in the desert places in our lives we’re actually far closer to God than we might think or at first feel. It’s in the desert that we are most often confronted with our need of God for direction, comfort and sometimes-even survival. It’s in the desert places that we discover that we need to listen and be attentive to what God is saying; and it’s in this place that we can discover how to hear His voice and word for us.
It you feel like you are in the wilderness instead of kicking and screaming and wanting to bury your head in the sand until something better happens, choose instead to make the most of your wilderness time. For the wilderness and desert places in our lives are the places of God’s word to us and of His leading and guidance. It’s where many of those who have gone before us have encountered and heard from God Himself.
“Our fathers ate the manna in the wilderness; as it is written, ‘HE GAVE THEM BREAD OUT OF HEAVEN TO EAT.’” (John 6:31)
“I cared for you in the wilderness, in the land of drought.” (Hosea 13:5)
Today quiet your heart and mind and pray that you will hear God speak in the desert, and that you will take heed of His voice and word to you. Pray that in your wilderness you will find His presence, grace and provision, and at the right time your desert place will “be turned into pools of water, and the parched ground into springs.” (Isaiah 41:18)
Prayer: Lord thank you for the desert places in my life. When I am in the midst of these times please help me to not try and avoid or run from the desert, asking that you only take me out of my wilderness, but to understand that I can actually draw close and hear your voice more than ever before. In Jesus name Amen.