For the LORD your God has blessed you in all the work of your hand. These forty years (desert wanderings) the LORD your God has been with you; you have lacked nothing. (Deuteronomy 1:7 / NKJV, parenthesis added)
Desert wanderings are no fun. Very few people call their travel agent and ask to schedule a two-week vacation (much less forty years) to stay in the middle of a dry, hot, desolate wilderness.
I recall several times in my life when I’ve spent time in a proverbial desert. My soul felt dry, God seemed silent and distant, and my prayers seemingly went unheard and unanswered. Some of the desert treks were the result of my disobedience while others were opportunities of preparation for future tasks.
When my desert wanderings lengthen; barren vastness dries my soul.
Scorching heat and sand’s erosion blast their overwhelming toll.
Could it be that God is working – all that’s worthless to consume?
Is my desert meant to punish or prepare for future bloom?
But do you know what I found to be true? Even though it felt like I was wandering in the desert alone, God’s presence was still with me. Though all seemed hopeless, His plan was in place. Though He was silent, He was not absent. I learned I would rather hear heaven’s silence than all the world’s noise combined.
The Israelites wandered in such a place for forty years due to their disbelief and disobedience when God told them to possess the Promised Land. They refused to believe Him when the ten spies brought back discouraging news about all the obstacles they faced. God turned them around, away from the land that “flowed with milk and honey,” into the barren wilderness. Their lack of faith confirmed they were not ready to possess the land promised them. Even though they were banished to the desert, God was still with them every step of the way.
If you are walking through a barren stretch in your life, spend some time alone with God. Remove yourself from all outside distractions and quiet yourself before Him. Listen for His still small voice. He doesn’t shout, He whispers. The answer may not come immediately or when you want or expect it. But He is there with you. He hears your prayers and sees your tears.
Submerge yourself in His Word. Align your desires with His will. Prepare your heart for His vision. Look through eyes of faith. Listen for His whisper. He speaks even in your desert.