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The "Desert"

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"Why am I am the desert?"

Have you ever felt like you were in the desert? In a place where you wonder if God has deserted you. Where you feel alone and abandoned. Where you wonder if God even sees you ....or even cares?

Many have felt this way one time, or another.
Perhaps you are in that place now?
It can be a very hard place to be, and quite often painful. A place where you wonder if God is done with you, displeased with you.
 ...And in turn you wonder if that's why you feel so alone. Why you have these feelings.

And what can really pain our heart. Is when our walks have been so close with the Lord. But then things change. We feel distant. We feel as if we are not being heard by Him. We hear and "feel" silence all around us.

We can remember times when He used us, serving others. When we felt, "on top of the world". Serving Him and seeing what He was doing in our lives, the lives of others. Then we come to a time, when all is quiet. When we feel nothing is happening. When we feel abandoned, in a lone valley.

And this can be such a painful place for us. A place of real "dissolution". But you know what? God does not allow us to suffer. Or to be in a desert without any real purpose.
You see it is God's will for us to be conformed to the image of His Son:

 "For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren."

                   (Romans 8:29 NKJV)

Why? Because He is building us into a "royal priesthood":

 "you also, as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ."

                    (1 Peter 2:5 NKJV)

And in order to do this He has to prune us:

 "I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit."

                    (John 15:1-2 NKJV)

He has to Remove the "dead pieces" of our lives. The ones that hold us back and hinder us from becoming more like His Son.    ...And this never feels good!
Especially if we are in a place of "wandering" in the desert. But what we usually do not see in these times. Is that God is teaching us as He is removing the "dead things" from our lives. He is growing us.

Yet, we tend to "kick and scream". We fight it. We argue with Him. We do not like this uncomfortable place we are in. But yet the hard times, the trials, are where we grow. Where we are benefited:
 "My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing."
                     (James 1:2-4 NKJV)
Even when it is the times we are chastened:
 "Now no chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but painful; nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it."
               (Hebrews 12:11 NKJV)
And what can be confusing for us in this time. Is that we often do not see anything good happening. We wonder why we are there at all! We can see no (real) purpose. But often that purpose is happening right in front of us. But we do not perceive it yet! ....Until we see the "fruit" from it. How He has changed us and how we have grown.
You see God's silence. Or what we can "perceive" to be (God's) silence. Does not necessarily mean that He has deserted us. Or that He isn't interested in our lives. Often, I believe God wants to see how faithful we are to Him. When we feel He is far from us. Could this be the case? Perhaps, sometimes yes. Also, we know that sin can separate us from Him (Isaiah 59:2). It can affect our walk. Of course repenting of our sin brings us back into fellowship with Him. And this is something we should consider in these times. 
But whatever the case may be, one thing we MUST always remember is this. We cannot "put" God in a box and "decipher" everything He does!

 "For who has known the mind of the LORD?
       Or who has become His counselor?"

                (Romans 11:34 NKJV)

But also with this, there is much we can understand the closer the walk we have with Jesus:

 "For "who has known the mind of the LORD that he   may instruct Him?" But we have the mind of Christ."

                (1 Corinthians 2:16 NKJV)

You see the closer the walk we have with Him. The more "in tune" we are with His Spirit:
 "But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God. For what man knows the things of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God.
 These things we also speak, not in words which man’s wisdom teaches but which the Holy Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual."
             (1 Corinthians 2:10-13 NKJV)
Now, it may be harder for us when we are in that "lone" place. But it does not mean that we should give up. Or think that God is done (i.e. "through", finished, etc.) with us. It is in these times that we look to Him even more. More than we have in the past:

 "As the deer pants for the water brooks,
          So pants my soul for You, O God.
    My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.
          When shall I come and appear before God?
    My tears have been my food day and night,
          While they continually say to me,
          "Where is your God?"
    When I remember these things,
          I pour out my soul within me.
          For I used to go with the multitude;
          I went with them to the house of God,
          With the voice of joy and praise,
          With a multitude that kept a pilgrim feast.
    Why are you cast down, O my soul?
          And why are you disquieted within me?
          Hope in God, for I shall yet praise Him
          For the help of His countenance."

                 (Psalm 42:1-5 NKJV)

You see just as the sons of Korah had to remember, and look to God. So must we! As we just read, "for I shall yet praise Him..."

You see God is faithful. He keeps His promises!
 ...Even if we do not:

   "if we are faithless,
        he will remain faithful,
        for he cannot disown himself."

            (2 Timothy 2:13 NIV)
He is the one who is ALWAYS faithful:
 "Your faithfulness endures to all generations;
         You established the earth, and it abides."
                    (Psalm 119:90 NKJV)
You see we are the "fickle" ones! Never God!! ...But yet we tend to "judge" Him, like we do each other!!! Something doesn't go our way. Or the way we think it should. And we are ready to hold it against Him. Just like we do anyone else!

 ...But He knows His plans for our lives:

 "For I know the plans I have for you," declares the   LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you,  plans to give you hope and a future."

                  (Jeremiah 29:11 NKJV)

He knows how to accomplish these. And what it will take. So much better, than we do! Just as a father knows what is best for his beloved son, or daughter. And to accomplish this, He knows what is needed, what is required. So He "prunes away" all the dead things in, and of our lives to grow us. Remember this (what we just read earlier)?

 "I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away; and every branch that bears
fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit

                 (John 15:1-2 NKJV)

But this pruning can be painful! Just as a branch being pruned, it is painful for the branch. It is for us also! Afterall, who would not feel pain if part of you were being "cut off"?
And when we are going through the desert. When we feel nothing is happening. It causes us to doubt His love for us. His involvement in our lives. But it is in these times He is still there with us. Very much so! Seeing if we will be faithful. If we will continue to trust Him.
Remember? it is important to God that we trust Him:
 "But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him."

                      (Hebrews 11:6 NKJV)

Now, He is God, He already knows what we will do, before we even do it. But sometimes He also wants us to be able to see it!
And He uses this time to prepare us for what is ahead. His will for our lives.
Just as Moses. He tried to deliver a fellow Hebrew by killing an Egyptian. He thought he could deliver in this way. He thought His fellow hebrews would understand God would use Him to deliver them:
 "And Moses was learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians, and was mighty in words and deeds. “Now when he was forty years old, it came into his heart to visit his brethren, the children of Israel. And seeing one of them suffer wrong, he defended and avenged him who was oppressed, and struck down the Egyptian. For he supposed that his brethren would have understood that God would deliver them by his hand, but they did not understand. And the next day he appeared to two of them as they were fighting, and tried to reconcile them, saying, ‘Men, you are brethren; why do you wrong one another?’ But he who did his neighbor wrong pushed him away, saying, ‘Who made you a ruler and a judge over us? Do you want to kill me as you did the Egyptian yesterday?’ Then, at this saying, Moses fled and became a dweller in the land of Midian, where he had two sons."
                 (Acts 7:22-29 NKJV)
But they did not understand. It failed when Moses did it his way. And he ran away to the desert. But God used this to accomplish His will. He "pruned" Moses in the desert.
And He visited Moses fourty years later:
 “And when forty years had passed, an Angel of the Lord appeared to him in a flame of fire in a bush, in the wilderness of Mount Sinai."
                    (Acts 7:30 NKJV)

Why fourty years? Because that was the required time. Not only to prune Moses, prepare Him for the work ahead of him. But also to work out things in the "background".
Now, since it took fourty years. Does that mean God was nowhere to be found, during this time? That He had deserted Moses? Of course not! God was always with Him, watching over Him.
...But it took that fourty years to prepare Him!
You see, when we are God's children. Like any father. He wants the very best for us. And He wants to accomplish His purposes, will, etc. through us, His children. But it means that we must be equipped properly. Both spiritually, mentally and in some circumstances, physically.
So you see the "deserts" of our lives are not really deserts at all. They are times of learning, growth, maturity and "equipping" (etc.). And they are a buidling, i.e. "proving" ground!
So when you feel that you are in the "desert". Just remember this, you are NEVER truly alone!
He is always there, holding your hand:
 "Nevertheless I am continually with You;
         You hold me by my right hand."
               (Psalm 73:23 NKJV)

 "Even there Your hand shall lead me,
         And Your right hand shall hold me."
              (Psalm 139:10 NKJV)

And Remeber this. If there is someone who truly knows, better than anyone else. What it is to be alone. It would be and is! Jesus:
 "From noon to three, the whole earth was dark. Around mid-afternoon Jesus groaned out of the depths, crying loudly, "Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?" which means, "My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?"
          (Matthew 27:45-46 The Message)
And remember? He is God in the flesh:
 "Philip said to Him, “Lord, show us the Father, and it is sufficient for us.” Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you so long, and yet you have not known Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; so how can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?"
                    (John 14:8-9 NKJV)
Just as He explained to Thomas. When Thomas asked Him, "show us the Father and it is sufficient for us". You see we have a God. One who knows what it is to feel alone and abandonded. So when we go through these times. We must remember. The pain that we have felt. He has felt also, and so much more. More than we can, nor ever could imagine!
Just as He felt in the garden:
  "Then He said to them, “My soul is exceedingly sorrowful, even to death. Stay here and watch with Me.” 
He went a little farther and fell on His face, and prayed, saying, “O My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will.
                  (Matthew 26:38-39 NKJV)
He knows what we go through!
So remember this. The desert isn't a place to give up. It's a place to keep looking to the heavens! And trusting in the One who will never leave us, nor forsake us:
 "And the LORD, He is the One who goes before you. He will be with you, He will not leave you nor forsake you; do not fear nor be dismayed.”
               (Deuteronomy 31:8 NKJV)
So the next time you feel you are in the "desert".
Consider this!
And remember we serve a God who sees well beyond us. Behind the scenes, beyond the years. He sees ALL!
So it is up to us to put our trust in Him who will NEVER fail us:
 "Trust in the LORD with all your heart,
        And lean not on your own understanding
         In all your ways acknowledge Him,
        And He shall direct your paths."
             (Proverbs 3: 5-6 NKJV)

Rev. John Heintzman
Evangelist Non-Denominational
Any questions, comments, prayer requests?

POHOM Columbus, Ohio
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