One of my current favorite worship songs is: Desert Song by Hillsong. My son was listening to it the other day on Pandora and asked me what the song was about. With an "I'm so glad you asked" mindset, I tried to describe to him how there are times when we struggle to understand what God is doing around us. We might feel discouraged, confused, and have more questions than answers about something important to us.
Then, in a roll-reversal moment, he plainly stated an observation about deserts that taught me more than I probably imparted to him that day. "Well, yah Mom. That makes sense, because what else is there to do in the desert but ride a camel and drink water from a cactus."
In my struggles to understand what the Lord is doing, I am often only searching to drink at an oasis. They're beautiful, lush, refreshing .... They're also very few in the desert. I want to pass up the prickly opportunities to be nourished along the way hoping that an oasis will be just around the corner. My son's comment was a reminder to me that the Lord often supplies refreshment in the most unlikely and thorny of places. The thorns of the cactus make me not want to touch it. "Stay Away!" They shout. "I'll hurt you!" Then, I think. "Lord, you can't possibly want to use this to bring me closer to you. It's painful. I don't want to be uncomfortable."
Yet, here's the thing. As a child, I didn't understand how to handle the thorns of a cactus. They looked small and non-threatening. A few pokes later, I reasoned that the gardening tools my mother was using were a pretty good idea. There is a word for this: Wisdom. It's the same way in our deserts. When the thorny opportunities come to us, there are tools to cut into such things. I just need to choose to use them. If I choose not to pick up the Word of God and read it, I get stuck by the thorns. If I choose not to cultivate prayer time, I get stuck by the thorns.
Wandering in a spiritual desert is a difficult time. Our discouragement may make it difficult for us to do the very things that will give us water to drink. I was in that place again recently, and I'm grateful that I picked up my sword. The cacti are coming open a lot easier again.
Hebrews 4:12 For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.
John 4:13-14 Jesus answered, "Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life."