Deserts in faith and life

It’s all in how you look at it. Perspective is everything.

The other night I was doing a guided meditation on the Bible App (YouVersion). We were to picture ourselves in a desert. My mind went to something like this:

At least it had a road for God to swoop in and reach me out there in the middle of nowhere.

But why did I picture the bareness of the desert?

There is also beauty in areas we call deserts:

For me, if I picture a desert, I usually picture a wasteland or dunes of sand for camels:

But back to why I pictured a wasteland. When I think of a desert of doubt, I picture an arid place but one that lacks vitality and inspiration. I picture a wasteland…empty, without life.

In my meditation, God DID rush up the road at me and embrace me. I was rescued and restored.

Isn’t that what we want? When we are in a crisis of faith? When I am — I long for relief. I long for answers. I long for being refreshed and renewed.

Sometimes during the desert of faith, life can seem almost unbearable. It is during this time my heart cries out to Jesus to “Move” and “Do something in me”, “Take this doubt away and restore my faith.”

According to 2 Timothy 1:6 we are to fan the flames, stir up the gift, that God has given us. Belief is a gift we have been given through the working of the Holy Spirit in our lives.

When in a desert it can seem nearly impossible to motivate ourselves to rekindle the flame. Maybe we walk through the motions of our daily devotions. Maybe we listen to our favorite Christian music but at this time it seems dry, and we really are not hearing the words playing in our ears.

Wasteland. We call it that because we view it as wasted. And a wasteland of faith does not have to be wasted. It can be a time of great growth. It stretches us. It forces us to wrestle with ideas and concepts that used to come so easily to us…perhaps too easily.

There is a time to accept things and concepts straight forwardly. Then there is a time to wrestle with them and make them personal. Make them come to life so we can depend on them the next time things start to dry up. Also, that is another thing about being in the desert of faith. Once we have been there and gotten through it by the grace and with the help of the Holy Spirit…we then have experience that will tell us the next time “You have been here before. You will be ok. You will learn and grow and get to the other side.”

The desert is not all wastelands. Foliage grows in the desert. It can be quite beautiful if you have the right perspective.

Remember that God is our oasis.

He is there to water us and lead us beside still waters. He is there, here, to restore our souls.

And when we look around, we can see we are not alone.

We are never alone. And I am not just talking about God being with us as in above. We can find community in our desert moments. Actually, the experience can be far longer than just moments – can’t it? But God has provided us with the means to reach out to the fellowship of believers. We have churches. We have phones. We have email and FB. We have WordPress. We have prayer lines. We have praise music. We are surrounded by a cloud of great witnesses that can be a support to us in the dry times that often bring doubt and depression. We need not go it alone. But it takes vulnerability.

In the picture above…. God, the oasis body of life is in the center. Then, the people surround that body. They buffet us from the sandstorms of life. They keep us encapsulated so that we do not drift aimlessly and get lost.

It is easy to feel all alone in the deserts of faith and life. If we isolate our thoughts and emotions, then no one can be there for us. We suffer unnecessarily and alone. Why do we do that? Why do we think we have to have it all together- all the time? Don’t we know that the others have been here too? Are we afraid that we are unique? That no one else ever has doubts?

I have met only a couple pastors who claimed they never had doubts. But I have met many who do admit that they too, at times, wrestle with faith. We are not alone. Thomas had been told that Jesus would raise from the grave. Yet, he could not believe it was true until he had proof. I am sure he was wrestling with the fact that everything Jesus said had been truth…yet what about “this”.

“This” – whatever it is for you– may just be the soil for the seed to take root and grow a beautiful cactus out of baren land.

It does us no good to try and wish away our journey through the desert.

We can pray for God to be with us, to embrace us, to be our oasis. We can pray for God to help our unbelief as we go back and forth with doubts and assurances in Scripture. And it is OKAY!

What do we do when we are in the desert of faith– we keep going. We behave as Christians of faith. We carry out our calling to be Holy and disciple others into faith…yes even the faith we are struggling with. Because at the end of the day, our faith is our base and is still underneath it all. Mother Teresa went through decades of depression due to wondering where God had gone in her life. But we all know how she carried on. Let her be our example. Was the road easy? No. Was it always beautiful– not from her perspective. But let our hearts be open to the journey and the growth. And let us remain faithful knowing this will not always be our view and lot in life.

Until Next Time~
Blessings, Kate