"Be prepared, in season and out of season."
2 Timothy 4:2
When I returned from Arizona last year, I began pondering the things I felt God had dropped into my heart regarding the desert experience. I called my dear friend, Carole, who we had visited in Arizona and asked her to do some research for me. She sent me a list of things to do to be prepared for a hike in a real desert. It seemed to be a really good place to start studying to prepare for a spiritual desert. Today we will start with the first step:
1. Be Prepared: Understand that in the desert …
There may be water, there may not be, depending on the season.
When God delivered the Israelites from the Egyptians, He led them through the wilderness instead of the more direct route that would have gotten them to Canaan in 11 to 30 days, depending on which commentary you read. They spent 40 years in the wilderness. Exodus 13:17 tells us, “God didn't lead them by the road through the land of the Philistines, which was the shortest route, for God thought, ‘If the people encounter war, they'll change their minds and go back to Egypt.’" So God led the people around by the desert road toward the Red Sea.
God sent them into the wilderness on purpose, because He knew that if they faced the Philistines in war, they would be tempted to return to Egypt and its “safety”. They weren’t prepared to face battle yet; they didn’t know who their God was yet; they didn’t know they could trust Him yet. They needed some time to get to know their God and that He would be on their side at all times…that He would guard, guide, protect and provide.
- He was the pillar of cloud by day and fire by night to direct them.
- He was their rear guard to hide them from the Egyptians as they prepared to cross the Red Sea.
- He was their Waymaker through the Red Sea and made a way where there had seemed to be no way.
- He was their conqueror when he destroyed the entire Egyptian army.
So, while God directed the Israelites into the desert as they left Egypt, He did not send them unprepared. Exodus 12:35, 36 says, “The Israelites did according to the word of Moses; and they [urgently] asked of the Egyptians jewels of silver and of gold, and clothing. The Lord gave the people favor in the sight of the Egyptians, so that they gave them what they asked. And they stripped the Egyptians [of those things].” (AMP) God sent them out into the wilderness prepared. They had everything that they needed. And even though they were out there for 40 years, the Bible tells us that not even their shoes wore out!
They were prepared…until they ran out of water!
But God had that under control too. When there was no water, He made water spew forth from a rock (Exodus 17). When the waters were bitter, he sweetened them (Exodus 15). He refreshed them with water.
As we travel thru life, most likely at one time or another we will find ourselves in a desert. How do we prepare? How do we prepare for a desert that we may not know we will be traveling through? Sometimes we find ourselves in the desert because we have isolated ourselves from fellowship with others…it is by our own choosing. Sometimes, like the Israelites, it’s just a path that we must take to get to the destination God has for us.
When you find yourself in that place, what is your water?
What refreshes your soul in times of drought?
Spending time in His Word regularly will help prepare us for those “dry” seasons. Psalm 19:14 says, “Thy Word have I hidden in my heart, that I might not sin against You.” Getting to know God and having a relationship with Him will prepare us for those times when we feel alone. Or during those “waiting” periods when we don’t really see anything happening in our lives.
"He satisfies the thirsty soul"
“Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters…”
“Let the one who is thirsty come;
and let the one who wishes take the free gift of the water of life.”
No matter the reason we find ourselves in the desert, it is important to remember first of all, that God has never left us or forsaken us. He is always right there with us...sometimes waiting for us to notice Him, but there guarding us all the same.
“But GOD himself took charge of his people,
took Jacob on as his personal concern.
He found him out in the wilderness, in an empty, windswept wasteland.
He threw his arms around him, lavished attention on him,
guarding him as the apple of his eye.”
Deuteronomy 32:10 (MSG)
Are you preparing?