About three weeks ago I was in the desert of Ein Gedi near the Dead Sea. I crossed through and spent a full day in the wilderness south-east of Jerusalem. That region is called the “wildland” or “the Wilderness of Judah.” I even got to ride a camel; more of a photo op than an actual desert experience. I know. And I am the first to say it. The word “experience,” even when qualified, is a stretch, since the ways of the desert are brutal and incomparable to the few minute jolly ride within sight of our air conditioned van.
But still, it got me thinking about what it would be like to cross the desert on camel or donkey or, my goodness, on foot. An intense experience not for the faint of heart. Oh yeah, not for the feeble ones. It seems that all those who are called for great things in life (Abraham, Moses, the Israel nation and, also, Paul, Peter, Jesus Himself and even you and me as Jesus reminds us in John 14:12) had to spend time in – or cross through – the desert. Both literally and figuratively.
King David too spent time in Ein Gedi. He hid in the caves from Saul. I know now what David meant when he sang in Psalm 42:1 “as the dear pants for flowing streams of water, so my soul longs after You, oh God.”
I get it. I saw the Ibex drink from the mountain springs above the waterfall in the Ein Gedi wilderness. I felt David’s thirst for the Lord. I understand.
You know, even Jesus spent time in the desert. He launched His divine ministry with a 40-day fast somewhere in the wilderness east of Jerusalem. Around Jericho? Or in Ein Gedi. Somewhere in that area.
It gets hot during the day. And cold at night. It is rough. The wilderness is painful. Yet, the desert is also a cathartic place and process that draws us nearer to our heavenly Abba. It seems that experiencing the wasteland is God’s way of molding His chosen ones for greater things in life. I know a thing or two about arid wastelands, dark valleys, and the desolate desert. I know that it is not easy. But I also know that the tears shed during the wilderness bring healing. I moreover know that the desert precedes the place of “shalom,” the place of peace, abundance, completeness, wholeness, healing, and prosperity. I know it by faith from what King David was forced – and Lord Jesus chose – to endure. I also know it experientially from what I personally suffered during the crossing of my own wildland a few years ago. I now know beyond a shadow of doubt that there is a place of “shalom” for us both here on earth in this life and also beyond.
In Psalm 66:10-12, The Lord reminds us that He will see us through the wilderness. He will see us to the other side of the desert. He won’t see us OUT of it but He will see us THROUGH it. We have to go through the process. But, there is an end. There is a place of “shalom” for you. For me. For both of us. Crossing the wildland is necessary. It is an integral part of the healing, purifying, and humbling process. Though challenging, we are not alone during our journey through the arid and dry places.
A couple of days before the Ein Gedi desert experience, I visited a vibrant beach in Haifa. As I was walking and watching the sun set on the sea side of the Mediterranean, I had a divine revelation. I passed a little Jewish boy, about 15 months old, who was wading through the sea along the beach. His abba, his father, was protectively hovering over his young son. The dad was holding up his baby’s two hands for support. With most of the weight lifted up by the father, the butt-naked baby was awkwardly, but joyfully, laboring step by step through the water. As I passed them, the baby turned his head, gazed at me, and smiled. A smile of happiness and innocence reflecting a heart free of any and all worries.
The Lord spoke to me me through this Jewish baby’s pure heart. The baby’s smile and sparkling eyes said it all. “No worries. Abba got you. He covers you. He hovers over you. He protects and sustains you. No worries. No fear. You are not alone. Abba holds you. He sustains you. Your Heavenly Father walks with you.” The Haifa message punctuated what my heavenly Abba has been revealing to me throughout the last 12 months. I would say that I finally started to see my own Jordan River last summer. And I crossed into my Promise Land, the place of shalom, sometime at the beginning of this year. Maybe 1/1/2014. Around that time. A few days before. A few days after. This is my faith testimony! A story of God’s faithfulness during my wandering through the wildland.
Please take a moment to read this once you finish this blog entry. My Ein Gedi desert experience will make even more sense.
Praise God for the victory of truth! God turned and turns ashes into beauty! Thank The Lord for His shalom!
What a journey. Hallelujah! Praise The Lord! Amen!
Blessings and Love, Andrei
Above: HAIFA – vibrant Mediterranean Sea beach.
Left: EIN GEDI – waterfall from mountain spring in the desert.