Every Christian will go through “desert experiences” in life. Perhaps you are going through one right now?
When I speak of “desert experiences,” I am not referring to momentary discouragement or the usual ups and downs of life. These are all natural occurrences. What I am speaking of is a continuous spiritual period of time when we feel God is far away. These are the times when the Christian says, “Lord, where are you? I am facing hardships and difficulties on every side and I need you – now!”
There are several reasons we go through “desert experiences.” One is sin. When we are in rebellion against God we often feel He is far away, and, in actuality, He is. Our sins separate us from God (Isaiah 59:2; Jeremiah 5:25).
Another reason for a “desert experience” could be that a hope we have clung to – perhaps for a job or a relationship – has not become a reality. Or, a “desert experience” could simply be the point God has brought us to for a specific purpose; for something He wishes to accomplish in our lives.
Always remember that one of God’s purposes in our lives is to teach us and to change us. He desires to bring us closer to Him that we may learn more about Him, and in the process, more about ourselves. It is in these spiritual wildernesses where everything we have thought, everything we felt, and everything we have built our lives upon is stripped away. And when everything has been stripped away, all we have left is the Lord.
These can be the darkest times in our lives, times when we feel like we’re walking in circles in a dark room. But never forget: God has brought you to this place for a specific purpose!
Finding the Exit
It is inevitable that Christians will undergo these “desert experiences” at least once in their lives. This is a given. The question then is: How do we get out?
If you find yourself trapped in a “desert experience,” here are a few things to remember:
1. There is no formula. There are no five steps and you’re out of the fire. Life doesn’t work that way, and neither does the Christian life.
2. Remember who God is. Remember what He’s done in history, and remember what He’s done in your life. He has rescued His people from the brink throughout history, and He will do so again. He has rescued you from the brink when He saved you, and He will be there again for you when you need Him most.
3. Be brutally honest with yourself by asking God: “Lord, what in my life needs to change? What is causing this ‘desert experience’ I am in? Is it something I have done? Is it sin? Have You brought me to this place for a specific purpose?”
4. If God reveals sin in your life, confess it and repent of it. If it is something else, keep praying and be open to what God wants to show or teach you.
5. Don’t go through it alone. Generally, when Christians go through “desert experiences” they don’t want to talk to anyone; rather, they tend to isolate themselves. This can be a very dangerous place in which to be. Find another believer to confide in and share your concerns with him or her.
6. Accept and embrace reality. This is often very difficult to do; but this is the very reason God has brought you to this place. You may need to grieve over the loss, which may mean that you need some time to accept what has taken place.
7. Learn about God’s amazing grace. Be open to God. Allow Him to work in your life and mold you into the man or woman of God He wants you to be.
8. And finally, pray and study God’s Word. Stay focused on God and again, never forget who He is. If you are angry, hurt, or sad, tell God – He already knows what you are going through. Cast all you cares upon God, for He deeply cares about you (1 Peter 5:7).
If you find yourself in a “desert experience,” never forget that God is with you in it – even if you don’t feel His presence. And not only is He there with you, you can rest assured of something else: He will bring you through it! The challenge for you is to remain faithful while you navigate your way through this wilderness journey!
How Do You See Yourself?
“Then God said, ‘Let us make human beings in our image, to be like us. They will reign over the fish in the sea, the birds in the sky, the livestock, all the wild animals on the earth, and the small animals that scurry along the ground. So, God created human beings in his own image. In the image of God, he created them; male and female he created them’” (Genesis 1:26-27, NLT).
Growing up, I always had a poor value of myself. I believed that I was a horrible person. I did a lot of bad things because of my drug and alcohol addiction: I stole from people, I lied to people, I used people etc. I did a lot of bad things, so I thought I was a bad person that deserved nothing but bad things. Even though that has been a long time ago, those memories still stay with me.
I forget to remind myself that I am different from all other forms of creation. It is only human life that is called “created in the image of God.” God has given you and I communicable attributes. We have the ability to learn and increase our knowledge, we can reach a certain level of spiritual understanding, we can be very creative, if we seek it – we can become very wise, we can love, we can feel and show compassion, etc. God breathed His very breath into us.
Even though I always had a poor view of my self-worth, looking back, there were others that were trying to remind me of who I am, and who they are. I was given second chances by people that should have wronged me, I was forgiven by those that I hurt tremendously, and I was shown love when I only reflected hate. This is that beautiful image of God and that beautiful Spirit working its wonders. I sometimes wondered how someone could be willing to forgive me so easily. When I understood the forgiveness of God, and how he had forgiven me, and what He had done for me – then it made sense to me. You must understand that we all need forgiveness! Every single one of us!
I remember when my daughter Madison was just a little girl, maybe only 2 or 3 years old. She was so loving and so understanding and forgiving to be so young. I remember when I would let her down, she would sit in my lap and rub my hair and say, “It is ok daddy, you have pretty hair.” (Laugh out loud)
I must put aside my anger, put aside my differences, and have that sweet child-like faith and compassion to be able to forgive in that way. Don’t we all? No matter how you see yourself, how you see others – we are created alike. We have been created in the image of God! We are all valuable and precious to God. Should we not all be willing to forgive?
Be Encouraged, Chris 😊
What is your name? It depends on who is calling you? Maybe you are called mommy, or daddy? Maybe you are dear, or honey? When the doctor calls, your ears hear your full name. When you hear which name someone is using, then that can tell a lot about the roles that exist between the people.
The Lord has been known by many names. In the bible we see different references for the names we know Him by. One name was used in Daniel alone. This name was Ancient of Days. We find this in Daniel 7.
Daniel 7:9 NKJV
“I watched till thrones were put in place, And the Ancient of Days was seated; His garment was white as snow, And the hair of His head was like pure wool. His throne was a fiery flame, Its wheels a burning fire.
Study light.org commentary discusses that this name Ancient of Days is about stressing the eternity of God. Oxford dictionary states that eternity means unending time. Ancient of Days is our Lord showing us that He is beyond time. That time has no impact for our God. He is not concerned as the days turn to years. He is not worried that task will not be completed. The clicking of the clock is just a background noise with no pressure on His actions.
How does an eternal Father make a difference in our limited lives right now? We may have an expiration date on earth, but our prayers to the Lord do not. Prayers that reached the Ancient of Days is the one thing that will continue with Him, even long after they leave our lips.
1 John 5:14 NKJV
Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us.
Daniel 7:9 gives a good visual of who our mighty God is? What if our prayer today was focused on this Lord who is eternal? Let’s take the time to reach out to Him. When we do, the words that flow from our spirits, can be spoken with a peace. A peace that they are given to the One who can hold our desperate cries.
Our Father holds on to those heartfelt words, knowing that time itself will erase some of the pain of our prayers, and the other ones may be tied to time that only He understands.
Ancient of Days is just another name in the role that our Savior has with us. When we have that time alone, what will change knowing that our Lord has a name that is beyond the passage of time.
Ancient of Days, the God with no limits on time, please help us not be stressed with our limited time. Allow us peace, comfort, and perseverance when we feel overwhelmed with to do list, and deadlines.
Toward the scorners he is scornful, but to the humble he gives favor.
It was early in the morning. The sun was out, and the heat of the day had yet to start on this summer morning. I had my phone, and ear buds. I was planning to feed my self spiritually during a brisk walk.
I had just started the sermon, and was listening to the introduction. I passed by a paved parking area. There are on the ground were two puzzle pieces. They looked like they belonged to a child puzzle that was about 50 to 100 pieces. I immediately thought, how disappointing. Some child will try to put together a puzzle only to find two pieces are missing, and the task cannot be completed.
I soon forgot about the puzzle pieces as I quickly continued my walk, and the sermon began to dive deeper into biblical truth. What a great joy! The sun was shining, and the message was being received by my spirit. I felt God’s hand guiding me with the knowledge that was shared by the pastor. Time seemed enjoyable. I was not in a hurry to pass to the next item on my list, or was I bored withunfulfillment. It was just what my body, and spirit needed.
I had turned around, and started walking back toward where I started halfway in the sermon. As the sermon was finishing, I was close to the parking lot again. As I was leaving, I saw another puzzle piece from the same two that were lost. It was a little farther away from the first two pieces that I saw.
This time though, my thoughts were different. I am listening to this sermon, and finishing up taking in God’s word. God was showing me my spirit guidance. He was taking this sermon, His word, and applying it to my life. He was connecting it all like little puzzle pieces. I began to see what He was trying to teach,and show me. Maybe looking at these puzzle pieces was not about sadness. Instead they were about hope. He was showing me that I just had to connect them with God’s word, and spirit to understand what I was learning.
God was giving me pieces to the puzzle this morning. It was all supposed to be connected, and not separately understood. In order to grow in God’s purpose for my life, and understand His ways, my spirit had to bring together the connections.
I began my walk with sadness, and two puzzle pieces on the ground, and when I finished there was one more puzzle piece. That last piece with God’s spirit had turned my sadness to joy.
God is connecting pieces for you, just like He was for me. There may have been sadness when you saw one or two pieces, He gave you. Wait on a couple of other pieces that God will show you, and joy will come to you too.
Ah, Lord GOD! It is you who have made the heavens and the earth by your great power and by your outstretched arm! Nothing is too hard for you.
A True Friend
“Don’t ask me to leave you and turn back. Wherever you go, I will go; wherever you live, I will live. Your people will be my people, and your God will be my God. Wherever you die, I will die, and there I will be buried. May the Lord punish me severely if I allow anything but death to separate us. When Naomi saw that Ruth was determined to go with her, she said nothing more.” (Ruth 1:16:18).
Some of my best memories as a child was my friends. Early on, I had a couple ride or die friends that were always there for me. That would always do anything for me. Travis Jeffers and Brian Gosnell. We were so young back then. Maybe 10 or 11. As you get older, you realize that very rarely you will ever have the kind of friendship with anyone that you had with a childhood friend. That is just a different kind of friendship right there. The sleepovers, the all-nighters on the old Sega Genesis 😊 those were the days.
Reading this passage of Scripture brought back old memories of friends that I have not saw in years. I thought to myself, “Man, what a friend Ruth was.” It would be nice to have a genuine friend like that would it not? It is hard to find a true friend these days.
This Scripture is so awesome for me because it shows me how we should be in our friendships with others. It shows me where I fail as a friend. Naomi tried to get Ruth to leave, but she was not hearing it. The original word for determined in verse 18 means – strength, firmness, and persistence. We could all use some of that in our lives, couldn’t we? Man, this just reminded me how quickly we give up on people. We give up on people so easily sometimes. All I know is if we were fixing to embark on a journey together, and I had just had the worst luck, the most of horrible days, and you told me to just go ahead and go home – ok see you pal! Be careful. Call me when you get there!
You know what really stuck out to me? Isn’t our recovery journey a lot like that? Those whom we thought were our friends just bid us farewell. They pretty much write us off. Good luck pal hope you make it through your recovery. Most of them are not ready or willing to be by our side through it all! We all need a friend in our life that possesses a character like Ruth. Someone that will hold us accountable, always be there for us, and not give up on us when we give up on ourselves. Do you have a friend like that in your life? If you do, consider yourself extremely blessed.
Call them or message them today and tell them how much you appreciate their friendship and everything that they have done for you. Even if you are like me, and it is an old childhood friend that you have not saw in years. Try and get in touch with them and see how they are doing. Talk about your memories together of the good old days. This could be life changing for you! We sometimes take friendship for granted. Having a true friend is like taking a coin into the pawn stars shop in Vegas and finding out it is worth 1 million dollars. You did not realize what you had!
Be Encouraged, Chris
Hope everyone has a Happy Father’s Day!