“The vastness of the desert frightened her. Everything looked too far away, even the clouldless sky. There was nowhere you could hide in such emptiness.”
― James Carlos Blake
“There is always an entire desert between you and your treasure.”
I’ve always had a fascination and borderline obsession with deserts. Something about the nothingness both inspires and terrifies me in equal measure. This place that God drew His people to worship after captivity in Egypt and returned them to years later for a romance to kindle their dwindling love once again.
I don’t picture tumbleweed and cacti as the ambiance for a date but for God, the woo is strong in the desert. And I can see why. No distractions. Just a pair of eyes, a beating heart in your hand and time to work out your baggage.
Winter and wilderness are twins on opposite hemispheres each on the far end of the spectrum of hot and cold and I’ve always loved how Melissa Helser said it.
“The Holy Spirit asked me, ‘Don’t you love the clarity that winter brings? Do you feel anxiety in the trees? Do they feel anxious that they’ll never have leaves again and bloom again? I want to teach you something in this. There’s a confidence and security in My heart. Do not misinterpret this season.’
It was a huge growth moment for me. I just thought how ridiculous it would be to run into the woods in the middle of winter and be like, ‘Don’t worry. You’ll bloom again. Spring will come.’ Because they’re so rooted and grounded, they know they’re gonna bloom again because they get the necessity of seasons of rest and bareness to the fruitfulness of their spring and their harvest.”
― Melissa Helser
I always breathe easy every time I read that. I’ve said it before, that nature is confidently slow and life is a masterclass on signing up for the wait. And no place exposes you and the underbelly of your life like the desert. But it’s also a place of covering.
While watching the BBC series on Netflix called ‘The Reef’ (which is my obsession and therapy right now. Not kidding) I discovered that deserts have oceans. Makes perfect sense. Oceans have valleys, caves, lakes and rivers and Oh My God is awesome! For real!
More importantly, ocean deserts are a refuge for baby fish. They’re a sort of vital nursery providing them with food and shelter so this is where majority of them take cover. Even more intriguing is that these baby fish have the unlikeliest of companions – sea snakes (with venom more potent than their land counterparts), sea urchins, inside the rears of sea cucumbers (which is really just nasty but survival will make you do things I guess) to help them survive and grow.
Then it hit me – deserts and wildernesses are places where we grow and learn how to thrive. It’s not a place of punishment or the ultimate time out to think about our lives but a place of clarity, conviction and growth. Kind of like a pregnant mama’s incubator belly.
I suppose one of the joys of the desert is not having much to look to. It’s just you and your lonesome and being okay with the time it takes to turn oak or ripen. Remember, bareness tends to precede fruitfulness so the empty will soon make way for lush, bright and juicy.
It’s all a matter of perspective but desert seasons are necessary. There’s no question about that.Perhaps God's heart for us in the desert seasons of our lives is to learn to stop door watching or measuring the time it'll take to become and simply enjoy our slow but sure becoming. Click To Tweet
It’s happening whether we see it or not. Whether we blink and realize the beauty unfurling in God’s hand or not. It’s happening.
He pencils in each season and sets things into motion in our lives for a purpose we’ll understand in hindsight if we’re too caught up in semantics and circumstances to pause, take a breath and see His backparts way ahead of us working it all out.
Consider this a necessary reminder in the rocky above ground desert season of your life or the underwater desert season of your life (one feels like melting, the other feels like drowning but oh how you’ll miss it all once it’s over):
His promise is sure. You are becoming and the beauty of His handiwork will astound you. The longing heavy on your heart will pass away along with the tears you’ve cried. You will see the things you long to see. You will go to the places you long to go to. You will attain to (the full stature of) who He calls you to be.
I just hope you finally get to love where you are. Now. Exactly the way your life looks like.
Because from where He’s standing, everything is beautiful here.