Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. Matthew 4:1 NLT
Deserting the desert is the easy way out.
My greatest lessons came where I didn’t want to dwell. Although I’ve never visited a desert, I’ve seen pictures. A desert is a geographical place that receives less than ten inches of rainfall annually.
Sticking closely to the definition, Antarctica is the world’s largest desert, and the second is the Arctic Desert. But we usually associate the desert with heat. According to that definition, the Sahara Desert in Northern Africa would be the largest, covering 3.5 million square miles and stretching from the Red Sea to the Atlantic Ocean.
While certain wildlife and animals can survive the extreme temperatures and the sparse rainfall, a wide range of plant and animal life doesn’t live here. But what is barren quickly comes to life with just a tiny amount of rain.
Nor have I had much success growing the kind of plants found in deserts. Although I’ve tried, I usually overwater them, ironically leading to their demise. What I think will help them kills them. They have been created to live with little water. I’ve thrown away numerous cacti and aloe plants simply because I thought they needed water when they did what God created them to do: survive with very little.
The Bible references deserts often. Jesus Himself even spent some time in a wilderness where Satan tempted Him for forty days. Interestingly, Matthew claims the Spirit of God led Jesus there.
Deserts are more than geographical. They are emotional, spiritual, financial, and relational. I spend most of my time trying to avoid them when sometimes God wants me there. Occasionally I even put myself in the desert through bad decisions.
When God led me into the desert, He always had a purpose. I didn’t always know what it was, but I trusted a reason existed. I’ve never fallen for the old religious lie that God will explain everything when we get to heaven. I think it’s just a hope we have. I suppose when I get to heaven, I probably won’t care why God led me into the desert—if I even remember the experience at all. For Jesus, God’s purpose was so that He could identify with us in our temptations.
God limited Jesus’ time in the wilderness, and He does ours, too. When the forty days were up, angels ministered to Jesus. God also comforts us when our time in the desert is completed. Just as rain in a desert leads to plants suddenly blooming and animals scurrying, so God gives us refreshment when our trek through the barren land is over.
My downfall has been trying to desert the desert in the first place. When I do—as painful as the desert experience might be—I miss out on something God wants to do.
Don’t desert the desert. If God has led you there, He has blessings in store.
Father, give me the strength not to desert the deserts.
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