In the Desert of Life

As many now know, I am studying abroad in Israel this semester! I’ve been here for two and a half weeks and will be here for another two months. It’s been an amazing trip so far filled with memories and experiences that I’ll carry with me forever.

But as I’ve thought about what to write to share what I’m learning, I’ve wrestled over how to convey in writing what I’ve experienced so far. Although I could share stories and pictures of things I’ve seen and done {which might come at a later time}, I instead want to share what God has been teaching me here.

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This past week we traveled through the desert. A lot of desert. As we drove for hours through the Negev desert—the same desert the Israelites wandered for 40 years, I understood the Israelites complaint a little better. “Yes, Moses, Egypt was bad, but at least there was food and water there!”

Sometimes life is like that desert—dry.

Do you ever feel like you’re spiritually dry? As if you’re doing what you should but you still feel thirsty? Maybe you’ve been a Christian for some time and know what the Bible says about living a fruitful and joyful life, but for whatever reason, you aren’t finding joy and refreshment in it?

I know I have. In fact, I know I am.

The past few months have been a spiritually dry time in my life. I was anxious to arrive in Israel because being abroad always helps me put life in perspective, be stretched in my understanding, and be challenged in new ways.

But I was also excited to come here because I inwardly thought that the secret to ending my spiritual drought was to get away from my normal life. As if boarding a plane and traveling overseas could somehow instantly change my relationship with Jesus.

But yet, walking in the steps of Jesus and seeing Biblical sites didn’t change my spiritually dry soul. I’ve been trying to fill the hole in my heart of my stagnant relationship with God with facts and knowledge about Him. And it’s been draining.

I’ve talked with some friends about this—about why I’ve felt so out of sync spiritually. But I couldn’t pinpoint an exact reason. I decided it was time to talk with my parents.

{Side note: Parents have a lot more wisdom than we often like to admit. Seek their input from time to time. I don’t think you’ll regret it.}

So this morning I woke up at 5:00 to FaceTime them before they went to bed back in Iowa. I poured out my heart and shared my thoughts with them.

“Psalm 51:12 has always been a verse that I come back to,” I told them as I quoted it.

“Restore to me the joy of your salvation,
and uphold me with a willing spirit.”

“I want that joy in my life but I feel that everything I do to rekindle it just snuffs out the joy I once had.”

At this point my dad interjected. “Grant, do you know what Psalm 51:10 says?”

I didn’t.

“Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.”

He continued, “I always connect this verse with what Paul says in 1 Corinthians 15:58, ‘Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.’ You see, there are times when you won’t desire to wake up early to pray or read your Bible, but God calls us to be steadfast. And through that steadfastness, He bring us joy.”

I was so challenged by this simple thought. We talked more and I ended the call feeling so encouraged and refreshed. As I sat and journaled my thoughts, God reminded me of four thoughts I think we all need to hear:

  1. Just start reading. You might not desire to read the Bible everyday that you wake up, but dwelling on God’s Word continually is essential to growth—so stop making excuses and just start reading.
  2. Labor in Prayer. Don’t give God the scraps of your time. Dedicate quality time to prayer.
  3. Surround yourself in good community. Be vulnerable, transparent, and authentic with others—God didn’t design you to walk alone.
  4. Focus on others, not yourself. Spoiler Alert: The Christian life isn’t about you; it’s about serving others for the glory of God.

These four cliché statements were what I needed to be reminded of this morning. I hope that you too can be encouraged to remain steadfast even in the desert of life. Be reminded of the prophecy Isaiah spoke regarding Israel.

“Behold, I am doing a new thing;
now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?
I will make a way in the wilderness
and rivers in the desert.” ~Isaiah 43:19

If God can do it for Israel, He can do it for you and me.

God brings life out of our desert estate.The spiritual life isn’t always a fruitful garden; sometimes it is a destitute desert. Let us remain steadfast through the drylands and find joy in Christ, not our circumstances.

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3 thoughts on “In the Desert of Life

  1. We have all been there. Remember in Hebrews the reason that the Israelites has to wander in th desert is because of their unbelief. It’s true hat you never know Jesus is all you need until He is all you have. Seeing where Jesus walked and taught will benefit you greatly but all you are really doing is following his lead. It’s all about him. He can draw from the things you are learning in his time and in His way. You put it in for His use and leave it there. Drink from Him and out of you will pour living water. Stay quiet. That’s really where your roots go deep. Listen to uplifting music. Michael w smith recorded a song Witt Kari Jobe “you’re the one that really matters. Don’t quit asking until He gives you what you need for the next step. Dry times are more of a normal in the Christian life than you might imagine. Remember the Israelites wandered around the wilderness because of their unbelief (Hebrews). There is a lot of joy in the desert times if you stop trying to struggle against it. he met all of their needs while they were there. Jesus said in I Peter. Casting all your cares upon me. For I care for you. Simplify. Enjoy. Drink from Him and out of you will flow rivers of living water. I know from my own experience in Bible College that I learned a lot about God and the Bible while there but information (even great information) doesn’t fill the void in life that can
    only be filled by knowing Him. He’s the one that really matters. The only one. Ask for the Holy Spirit to fill you. Jesus said he has all these good things for us. We just need to ask and you can be assured He will answer you. Because anything we ask in his name (the things He knows we need) he will give us. You can really learn to enjoy the desert. It’s not over stimulating and it’s often there that you are quiet enough to here His still small voice. Love you loads Grant.

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  2. Grant it sounds like you are having an amazing time! This poster was really encouraging and I can definitely relate. I am excited to hear about your growth and your continuous desire to know God more. Can’t wait to read more.

    Liked by 1 person

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