Thriving in Desert Times

Have you ever endured dry times—times when nothing would come forth, when the ability to birth something, a new idea, thought or concept, seemed impossible – times where aimless wondering seemed to be the future destination for your movements, your mind, and your ministry—times when God seemed infinitely distant and the heavens seemed like brass? In your anguish you searched your heart and your soul to see if any kind of sin was present. You cried out for His forgiveness but deep in your spirit you knew sin was not the source of His silence.

The silence you were (or are) enduring was (or is) the deafening sound of desert time, a total silence in your spirit even though the noise of the world is earsplitting around you. In the silence you grope and stumble and grasp for the things which once appeared stable and life-giving but now, even these foundations give way and rapidly evaporate like the early morning mist as the sun reaches higher and higher in the sky. The well from which you have drawn life-giving water and have always depended has become dust and the choice before you, though simple, is scary: you can remain where you are and die or you can search for the Water of Life regardless of how deep into this desert it leads.

As the silence deepens and the heat increases faith and feelings begin to war against one another in a life-and-death struggle, while the memories of what once satisfied now seek to smother the steps of feet straining to walk in unfamiliar places. At times your vision is blurred with the images of deliverance but as you approach they disappear and all you are left with is more heat, more sand, and more silence. In essence you are cooking in the heat of His presence, the very presence which,, in the past brought joy, comfort, and satisfaction, but is now systematically killing you—bit by bit—piece by piece.

In the furnace of God you are being heated beyond the melting point, forged into something different – something new – something supernatural.  Despair, depression, and even death become your companions in this fiery place as those precious desires and dreams you’ve carried a lifetime in your heart and nurtured carefully with your hands vanish like ashes in the breeze. Swirling winds of hurricane force buffet and assail you as you are slowly stripped of anything and everything you would hold onto and take strength in. Crushed and carried along at the same time by the  same unseen hand, in faith you push toward the center of the roaring flame, that place where disaster seems imminent, where death would be welcomed, but where life will be born and purpose given. This is desert time.

Moses endured it and led a nation out of captivity. John the Baptist endured it and announced God’s Messiah. Jesus endured it and became the source of salvation. Desert time produces men and women who not only change history but ultimately author history. Deliverers, prophets, and sacrifices are all forged in the flame, created in the solitary heat of His presence. Will you endure it? Or like so many others, will you take the easy way out and drink from the devil’s shallow well and thus miss your day of anointing? Destiny or destruction – both are the result of desert time. Destiny is determined by passing through the flame and destruction is the destination of those who sidestep it.

If you find yourself here in the desert and unable to go on – “sing to God, sing praises to His name; lift up a song for Him who rides through the deserts, whose name is the LORD, and exult before Him.” In the hunger of your praise is found the habitation of His presence—even in the hottest part of the desert.