Have you ever spent time in a desert? Or perhaps a desert climate? What’s it like? It’s dry, hot, sandy, dusty. Did I mention dry and hot?
I haven’t been in a desert proper myself, but I did once visit Phoenix, Arizona in July. And I do believe that could be considered desert climate. It is hot, and dry. I can’t imagine or relate to spending any length of time in a desert. Perhaps some of you reading this have, or live in areas that would be categorized as desert climate. Maybe you live in Arizona!
As we continue to explore the life of Moses this week there is something further to be said about deserts. As soon as Moses had to flee from the fertile Nile River Delta, he entered the desert. And this would be his new reality. Desert. Dry. Hot. Dusty. He finds a wife. Has some kids. Looks after his father-in-law’s sheep. And where we find Moses in Exodus 3 is that he doesn’t just choose to exist in the desert, he chooses to cross to the far side. (Exodus 3:1)
What could we possibly mine out of that? If you’re in the desert, embrace it. Go into it and pass through it. There is great reward lying at the other side. Moses embraced the desert and finds there the symbol and metaphor of the desert that is woven throughout Scripture: Desert leads to dependency on God. Is there a more useful life “skill” than to learn to depend upon God? Unfortunately (for our comfort), that often requires the vehicle of a desert to get us there. Remember Hagar, Abram’s mistress (Gen.16)? God spoke to her in the desert. The people of Israel had to wander 40 years in the desert before they were prepared to enter the Promised Land. What did Jesus do after his baptism? Did he launch into ministry off of that high? No. Jesus spent time in the desert before commencing his ministry. In Galatians 1 we are given a peculiar sliver of information that Paul went into Arabia (desert) before he proceeded into ministry.
But back to Moses. There in the desert of dependency, as he embraces the desert and crosses to the other side, Moses finds the mountain of God. And God meets him there and transforms him. God reminds him what his identity is, and then commissions him to Kingdom representation. Moses learns dependency on God, not his own competency, is what is required to do Kingdom work. How about you? Are you a desert dweller? Take heart. It is for God’s good purpose. If desert dwelling was in your past, share your experience with someone else. Or perhaps you will be called to desert life in the near future, and this is a word from the Lord to prepare your heart for the journey.