His Gift of the Desert
“In the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius … the word of God came to John, son of Zechariah in the desert.” (Luke 3:1)
It’s interesting that John the Baptist was in the desert when he received his “Word” from God!
It didn’t happen at connect group, church, or at a conference.
Not that God doesn’t speak to us in those places, because He can and does.
It’s just that the desert (in scripture) is referenced as an extraordinary place of encounter with God.
Moses is another example – it was in the desert that God spoke to him from the burning bush. As a broken man and on the run for being a murderer, Moses was powerfully apprehended by God and RECOMMISSIONED to return to Egypt to do the job he was destined to do.
Then there was Jesus. After defeating the devil at the end of 40 days in the desert, the angels came to minister to Him, and He then started His public ministry.
In fact, so significant were the experiences of John, Moses and Jesus in the desert, that they ALL began their life’s mission immediately afterwards.
I have been reflecting on some of my own “desert experiences” recently – those of the “spiritual” kind, not scorching sun and hot sand!
Mostly, these came when I was desperately searching for God, needing guidance, or seeking a specific answer to prayer. I prayed. I fasted. I sought prophetic words. I became more and more thirsty for Him. That’s what happens in the desert, we get very thirsty. (Usually we feel that desert experiences take far too long to get through!)
Can you relate?
Perhaps you’re going through something like a desert experience right now? Maybe you’ve been praying and seeking God about something for some time …..
“God, what is my life’s mission”???
… Where is my life’s partner”??
… “Why can’t I seem to move forward in my DREAMS”???
It can be tempting during these times to feel far from God. We wonder “Why don’t I get the answers I’m looking for?
Psalm 145:18 says The LORD is near to all who call on him”
This verse reminds us that God is with us in the desert times – even if it doesn’t feel like it.
Not only is He WITH US, but He has a plan to radically encounter us and speak into our lives.
And in this solitary place of the desert, away from all the distractions, influences and even the voices of others, that we can come to rely on Him alone.
I’ve come to believe that God loves us SO MUCH, that He wants us to personally experience Him for ourselves. He doesn’t want us to live on a meagre, impoverished and second-hand experience of who He is.
So He leads us … and beckons us into the desert … “Come with me” He says, “Let me take you into a quiet and remote place where I will have your undivided attention. I want you to ENCOUNTER ME for yourself. Do you want to meet me face to face? Here I am – your Creator, Redeemer, Friend, Provider and Lover. I have so much to tell you about who I am, and who you really are, and what I’ve called you to do.
This is a solitary invitation – no-one else can go with you. No-one else can do this part of your journey – not if you want to experience the authentic Jesus for yourself.
What would it have been like for John the Baptist waiting in the desert for his “word from God”?
Yes – he would have been very hot, lonely and thirsty!
Under these conditions, not everyone is willing to spend time in the desert. Some people back away at this point, they may lose interest, or are not patient enough. Perhaps they say something like “Look, I’ve been praying and praying and nothing’s happened. I’m just not interested any more, this just doesn’t work”. So they turn back, foregoing an opportunity for a deeper experience of God.
But for the courageous, this divine invitation into the desert can be an extraordinary adventure of epic proportions.
When you meet God in this way – when you’ve prayed, and waited and listened for His voice – and then YOU HEAR IT – you are forever changed! You have met God, you have discovered more about who He is, and nothing and no-one can ever take this experience away from you.
I am so grateful to God for the desert – looking back it’s been a place where I’ve heard His voice most clearly. Yes, like John, the “word of the Lord” came to me in the desert.
I believe that the desert is His GIFT.
Not one that’s wrapped in glitzy paper and ribbon – no bells and whistles – but a priceless gift – and an invitation to personally encounter the all-powerful, beautiful, humble and radical Jesus and hear His life-changing voice – which can redefine our life. It is also a place where we often GET COMMISSIONED into that big DREAM and DESTINY that God has for us.
If you are in what feels like a desert place right now, resist the temptation to think you are alone, because nothing could be further from the truth.
Press, through. Remind yourself of Luke 3:1 “In the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius … the word of God came to John in the desert”.
God has set you up to experience a powerful, life-transforming “burning bush” encounter with Him.
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Have you ever had a desert experience which has led to an encounter with God?
You can leave your comments or feedback below.
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