Just as physical deserts are a real part of our world’s geography, so are spiritual deserts in the geography of our Christian journey. It seems that inevitably, in every Christian life, we find ourselves a little ‘dry’ and a little ‘jaded’. Somehow, along the way, our Daily Bread tastes little more than dry, old toast. Singing worship songs in church reflect little more than Christian karaoke sessions. Prayer doesn’t seem to go anywhere beyond the ceiling of our rooms. What has happened?
We are aware that something seems to be missing. We desire to live a wonderful, victorious Christian life, but somehow this life eludes us. Some of us have even bought into half-truths that Christians are supposed to live on a continuous ‘spiritual high’. But somehow, I don’t remember anywhere in the Bible where it says that we will always live on a continuous ‘spiritual high’.
We are always pointed to the Bible heroes and told that they lived a wonderful, victorious Christian life. And then, we are told that this life resembles some constant state of spiritual ecstasy that we are currently not experiencing. But did these Bible heroes really live in spiritual ecstasy all the time? Were their lives a record of one spiritual victory after the other? Were they always on the mountaintop of faith?
It seems that when I read my Bible, I find comfort – because I see people just like me. In a world as fallen as this, I doubt that we will be living fully like citizens of heaven just yet. To me, and from the examples of the ‘Bible heroes’, it seems like ‘Victorious Christian Living’ is really a steady, deep fidelity. Ecstatic highs, while nice, do not occur as often as some would have us believe.
Perhaps therein lies the answer to the spiritual deserts we find ourselves in: Fidelity. The conscious choice to hold on and to carry on. Fidelity is a choice. So is survival. When you find yourself in the desert, you will be faced with a choice: to survive or to perish. Each choice leads down a different path and requires different things. In the same manner, surviving in the desert is a choice and will require certain things on our part. What are they? Well, I don’t claim to be an expert in desert survival but here’s what I think: When deserts come and you find yourself lost in them, there are two things I think you will need to remember.
Take a look at the map. Do you see that the deserts of the world don’t go on forever? Similarly, the desert seasons of the spirit cannot go on forever – provided we keep walking. No one who is lost in the desert stops and says, “The desert will pass me”. They are not deluded to think that they can just stand still and the desert will eventually pass them. On the contrary, those who find themselves lost in the desert know that if they stand still, they will perish. So they keep walking. They walk on because they know that the desert cannot go on forever.
Look at the Sun
However, there is a danger that lies in merely walking. That is, without direction, you will get lost. You might end up walking in circles. That’s why the Sun is so important. It has been faithful – always rising in the East and setting in the West. When you keep an eye on the sun, you will be able to determine your bearings. You will be able to determine where North, South, East and West are. And once you get your bearing, you can walk in the right direction.
Looking to Jesus, Run with Perseverence
Once again, I don’t claim to be an expert. However, I’ve found that this advice has helped me through the desert seasons of my soul. Deserts can’t go on forever, so keep walking. And when you walk, keep your eye on the Sun, and you’ll know where you’re going. So when you find yourself in a spiritual desert, keep walking and keep your eyes on the Son.
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw of everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of God. Consider Him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.
Hebrews 12:1-3, New International Version