Over the weekend while one of the children and I were nursing the stomach virus (yuck), I thought more about the desert experiences I wrote on last Friday.
If you think of the wanderings of the children of Israel, you can imagine how uncomfortable it must have been for them. They were taken out of their homeland, out of their comfort zone, only to be relocated to the Sinai Peninsula and set to walk around in circles in the desert. How many times did they curse Moses for leading them into this desolate place and how many more times did they curse God for not coming through for them, or so they thought.
Have you noticed that the bigger the challenge God has ahead of you, the longer you stay in your desert? It takes a long time to prepare for what God has for you on the other side. There was no way the children of Israel could have handled the Promised Land before they were ready. They may have thought they were ready and knew what to do with it, but God knew they were no where close to being ready. This became evident when they began to complain to Moses. Exodus 10:11, "Was it because there were no graves in Egypt that you brought us to the desert to die? What have you done to us by bringing us out of Egypt?"
Have you ever felt God leading you in a direction, followed Him, only to feel abandoned by Him in the middle of it? I've lifted my fist quite a few times over the years, shaken it at God and thrown a southern belle fit in my best Scarlett O'Hara "never again" way!
Think of the others in the Bible who spent quite some time in their own personal desert. Joseph spent years in prison sharpening his leadership skills before he was elevated to rule Egypt. David had his years of hiding in caves with men who were in debt, unhappy and stressed before David was named king. All of these men had their moments of feeling alone, confused, and questioning why God had left them and wasn't acting on their behalf.
But God wanted to grow their faith enough so they could handle the blessings He was about to bring their way.
The more uncomfortable God allows you and I to get, the more demanding the challenges, the more pressure and risk we face, the more dynamic we'll be when God opens up the windows of heaven for us and brings us through to the other side.
The bigger question remains: when it seems as if God has left us in the desert to fend for ourself, will we still trust that He has a reason? That He could be preparing us for something greater? Will you and I give God permission to do His work, for as long as He wants, in the ways that He wants, to change us as deeply as He wants, to prepare us for the blessing ahead?