One may associate a “fast” with the word “desert.” And one may confuse the word “desert” with that of “wilderness.”
I certainly felt as if I was entering a desert of sorts giving up – or “fasting” – all social media and blogging. I released hold of the connectivity to which I’d grown accustomed at my fingertips, and I entered into a time of forty days of solitude.
The thing about a desert is there is no water. No life-sustaining properties. Just dust. And dirt. And sand.
The thing about a wilderness, on the other hand, is that while it may seem like a desert at first glance – with no shortage of dust and dirt and sand – a wilderness has life-sustaining properties. At any twist or turn in your journey, you just might find some shade under the branches of a palm tree or some water to quench your thirst.
In Exodus no doubt the Israelites felt they were entering the desert. After all, they set out on a journey that should have taken a week… Yet they wandered for forty years.
“You brought me here in forty years, when I know this trip should take a week.” – Enter the Worship Circle, You Are Mine
They longed for arrival at their destination; they wanted to make it to the Promised Land. Yet in their wandering – in all their confusion, in what may have seemed like an aimless, purposeless, waste-of-time journey – God provided what they needed.
He provided water to sustain their lives – from a rock no less (Exodus 17). And manna. We musn’t forget the manna. God literally made it “rain bread from heaven” (Exodus 16:4).
The Israelites were forced to trust and rely on the Lord like never before. And no doubt they consequently drew nearer to Him than ever before. And lo and behold – He was faithful.
“A desert is nothing more than a barren expanse of sand dunes that can’t support wildlife or vegetation. A wilderness may certainly have long, arid regions like that, but the withering dryness is sprinkled with springs and oases.” – Priscilla Shirer, One in a Million
He will turn what seems like a desert into a wilderness. He will provide springs and oases when we need them the most.
I came out of the wilderness of my Lenten journey a few days ago. And it’s funny – I now view the “wilderness” as not-so-much-a-wilderness at all, but to me the view looks something a little more like this:
Turns out it wasn’t the desert it may have seemed at first glance. While there were many times I wanted to connect through technology, the Lord truly provided me with what I needed:
I needed to disconnect from technology in order to connect more effectively with my Savior.
I needed to break my habit of checking one social media app on my phone to the other in order to establish a habit of prayer, meditation and Scripture memorization.
I needed to quiet my mind in order to hear the voice of the Lord more loudly than ever before.
I’m not itching to re-enter the social media world. I’m not longing to be out of the “wilderness.” Because it’s in the wilderness where the Lord transforms us, changes us, molds our hearts to become more like His. And that, my friends, is worth the wandering.
“Part of the reason the wilderness makes spiritual sense is because it enables us to know Him more intimately than we would if left to our own desires and devices.” – Priscilla Shirer, One in a Million
There will be more thoughts to come on my time in the “wilderness,” but for now, I am re-entering slowly, making sure I bring with me all that He has shown and taught me along the way.