To Lead Us to a Better Place
God delivered His people from slavery and led them through the desert on the way to the Promised Land, intending to reinforce their dependence, perseverance, and humility (Deuteronomy 8:2). Tragically, the people were not teachable. Despite water, manna, and quail, most refused to accept deliverance and blessing on God’s terms. Their bodies fell in the desert, and they never entered the rest that God intended for them.
We cannot dwell in the freedom of His promises until acknowledging that freedom comes wholly and completely from God’s hands. Moses himself learned the hard way, in his own humbling forty-year desert sojourn, reduced from prince to shepherd before ready to become deliverer.
A friend once counseled, “Don’t take forty years to make an eleven-day journey” (Deuteronomy 1:2). God will invest all the time and effort needed to prepare His people for blessing–the real question is how long we must wander the desert until we are ready to receive God’s blessings on God’s terms.
To Get Our Attention
Elijah found God in the desert. Only days after the greatest vindication of his ministry–the defeat of the prophets of Baal upon Mount Carmel–Elijah was on the run from the murderous threats of Queen Jezebel (1 Kings 18:16-19:3). Crushed by self-pity, Elijah could go no further in his own strength (1 Kings 19:4). How many of us have reached that point? Are you exhausted physically, emotionally, and spiritually-overcome by the burden of personal and professional responsibilities and a lifetime of spiritual opposition?
God first granted Elijah the physical strength for his solitary journey into the desert: “Get up and eat, for the journey is too much for you” (1 Kings 19:6-7). How many lives God has changed through a welcome meal and much-needed rest! Then the Lord brought Elijah into the desert. The desert is quiet–so quiet that we can hear the still, small voice that our culture screams to conquer. God strengthened Elijah’s body at an oasis, but He strengthened Elijah’s soul in the desert.
“What are you doing here, Elijah?” God asked in 1 Kings 19:9. Many of us need the same confrontation. Remarkably, God did not rebuke or discipline Elijah–He offered a firm but loving reminder that even when we are desperate, the Lord of all creation is firmly in control of our lives and circumstances. Regardless of how lonely the desert may seem, we are never alone.