Wilderness: Finding Life in the Desert
For anyone who has ever been to Israel, they can attest that there are A LOT of rocks. When I was visiting last summer my group would joke and say things like "no wonder people used to get stoned to death! This place has rocks on rocks!"
Israel is basically one giant desert with some gorgeous seas and streams throughout. It's hot, it can be desolate in some areas, but the beauty of it is breathtaking. As we read in the scriptures, the Israelites were pretty ticked about wandering around the desert for 40 years. I mean, I wouldn't be too fond of that either, but to be honest, the Negev Desert is one of the most beautiful places I've ever traveled to. It's hard for me to understand how the Israelites had such a hard time remaining faithful to God when they were surrounded by His astounding beauty - how could you not fall on your face and worship Him?
He's so BIG!
Often we go through seasons of life that seem like a desert. It's dry and uncomfortable. There is no life, no fruit, no visible growth, and you just feel desolate and alone in the wilderness. We pose questions like, Where is God? Why is he not speaking? Why do I feel so lost? These are the moments when we can hear God's voice so clearly because there is literally nothing else. It's coming to a place of desperation and humility and saying "God, I have nothing else beside you. I cannot survive unless you provide for me and sustain me with your presence" - It's uncomfortable, and yet it's the safest place to be.
[ A Psalm of David, when he was in the wilderness of Judah. ] O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you; my flesh faints for you, as in a dry and weary land where there is no water. Psalm 63:1
Aside from Moses leading the people through the wilderness, when I think of the desert I think of Abraham. This poor dude left his people and traveled through the desert to a land he didn't know to inherit the promises of God. What a high calling Abraham had - to be a father of many nations (Genesis 17:5). It was in the desert that the Lord spoke to Abraham and made a covenant with him, and it was in the desert that Abraham had a choice either to doubt God or keep trusting Him, and it was in the desert that Abraham saw God begin to fulfill his promises - through Isaac.
We all carry promises from God. In fact there are thousands of promises in the Bible that are directly for us from God. To sum them all up: Jesus is the promise.
His spirit, His pursuit, His love - It's all for us!
Like Abraham, we all carry individual promises and callings for our lives that will be revealed the more we seek the face of the Father. No one is exempt; we all carry something and we are all created for a purpose - His purpose.
I remember when the Lord first revealed His promises for my life. It was in a dream. This is really a story for another day, but here is the reader's digest version: I dreamt I was at a prayer meeting and a bunch of people from church gathered around me and prayed over me in tongues. I began speaking in tongues (something I think I was able to do before, but I was never quite sure if it was I was just making it up) and when I did the fire of God entered my stomach and dwelled in there like a baby - It was painful in a good way. When I woke up I couldn't remember the dream until 3 hours later, however my body was still manifesting fire and I could speak in tongues (for real)! Many would agree that this was the baptism of the Holy Spirit, and it was, however I also knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that I was now carrying "something". Shortly after that I had 2-3 people pray for me on separate occasions telling me that I was called to walk out an "Abrahamic journey" because of these newly given promises that I carry.
I still don't entirely understand what these promises entail, but I know it's "something" - something awesome. One thing I do know for certain; if I'm called to live a life like Abraham (trusting in what I do not see or understand), then I suppose that also means I'm bound to walk through deserts from time to time.
Good thing I find deserts mesmerizing.
If you're anything like me then you've probably had moments where you’ve doubted your calling, giftings, and purpose in life while walking through desert seasons. If you're really anything like me then on occasion your heart can get really yucky inside when your calling becomes bigger than your God. If that's you, don't lose heart and don't lose hope. Fix your gaze back on Jesus and allow Him to be exalted above your own ambitions.
Sometimes our hearts aren't yucky at all, sometimes we just need God to confirm that He's active in the waiting even when we can't see what He's doing. It's okay to ask (not whine) Him to confirm His plans when you feel lost. It doesn't mean you're faithless, it means you're just trying to be responsible with what He's entrusted to you by making sure you're on the right track.
I remember waking up one morning on a Bedouin camel ranch in the middle of the Negev desert - The very desert Abraham camped out in. The night before I was laying out under the stars crying out to God and boldly asking Him to (clearly) confirm His promises to me. It had been three years since I had that dream about the fire and I had seen very little progress, in fact it felt like I was going backwards in a sense. In the morning when I woke up, I was walking to the bathroom and my friend was standing nearby and nonchalantly greets me:
"Good morning, Shaba"
I stopped dead in my tracks and looked at him puzzled with tears welling up in my eyes. "Who told you to call me that?!" I exclaimed. He gave me a confused look in return and explained that he was only saying good morning. My friend knew what Shaba meant, but he didn't know what it meant to me. I went on to tell him that God calls me "Shaba" (even though I like to spell it Shabba). In Hebrew Shaba means to take an oath, which is exactly what God has done, He has made an oath to me.
The first time the word "Shaba" is used in the Bible was in the very desert I was standing in; An oath made between Abraham and Abimelech. I was so undone by the faithfulness of God; He confirmed his promises to me by using a friend to literally greet me in the morning with "Shaba - to take an oath"
As I said before, it's easy to hear God's voice in the wilderness when all we can do is cry out to Him for a solution. He is faithful to confirm and carry out all of His promises. If you are waiting on some promises to be fulfilled I want to remind and encourage you that the gifts and call God has for your life are irrevocable (Romans 11:29). He will fulfill every last word He has spoken - just keep giving Him your "Yes"
2 Corinthians 1:20 says it perfectly "For all the promises of God find their Yes in him. That is why it is through him that we utter our Amen to God for his glory."