Desolate… blazing… barren… parched… at times deadly…

Stifling as temperatures rise in the daytime, where the outcome of a wrong turn often results in stings or barbs.

This uncultivated, arid, solitary land is desert. A result of the Fall.

Living there gave me ample opportunity to become acquainted. Whenever compelled to enter its domain, I couldn’t wait to leave. The throat cries for water. Moisture evaporates in muscle, which cramps for lack of nutrients. The skin turns brown and leathery when exposed to merciless elements too long.

The desert is not a cozy place. It offers no place for comfort, no sheltering haven of shade, nor cool springs to quench the thirst. No arms reach out to embrace those who venture in. No idyllic picnic spots for spreading a blanket and napping. Thorns protrude from vegetation, and surly residents attack with bites and stings. Water is scarce and visions of refreshment dissipate in a blink. A welcome sign cannot be seen. No cheerful greeting of birdsong or creek waters gurgling over boulders to delight the senses.

Only the warning to approach warily and with utmost respect. If not, your skin will feed the vultures; the relentless sun will bleach your bones.

But that’s not all… Sand covers the desert floor for miles in every direction—tiny and infinitely numbered grains of rock, burning the feet and invading shoes. Each miniscule grain caught between foot and leather irritates tender soles.

Sometimes on this journey I find myself in a desert.

When the flesh grows weary, the spirit sags from hope unrealized… temptation suggests, This isn’t worth the heartache or the frustration…

With no destination in sight, no cool refreshment, no dewy oasis… only a great expanse of endless, sand-filled desert, I ask,

Are we there yet?

I want to give up on what’s hard. Daydreams grasp at a life of ease. I long for Paradise.

Among my travel companions are some who drone on about problems, difficulties, the hopelessness of our circumstance. Spoken reminders of a promised place we have yet to see are debated, critiqued, mocked or ignored. It is a long road through a weary land where we travel, with the journey lasting days, months, and sometimes years.

As stamina recedes and steps falter, I want to lash out or take my stuff and escape the pessimism. Don’t they realize how easy it would be for others to concede? And if we listen to them and give up, then what?

I resent their faithlessness, and begin to hate. Not just them, but the harshness of life continually chafing on me.

But the Spirit shakes His head. And I stand rebuked. With strong arms extended, He speaks words of comfort. In His hands lies the gift of Hope. I take it, and listen to His promise of what awaits on the other side of this wilderness. My spirit revives.

Then He whispers, Offer hope to them, too, by loving and choosing to forgive.

Realizing my error, my vision clears, allowing me to view things in new light. Someday there will be no more desert. And all will be made new.

From Isaiah 35 – …waters shall burst forth in the wilderness, and streams in the desert. The parched ground shall become a pool, and the thirsty land springs of water… And the ransomed of the LORD shall return, and come to Zion with singing, with everlasting joy on their heads. They shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away.

Another day has slipped by. As the sun slowly disappears, silhouettes of cacti and rugged peaks stand in stark contrast to the fiery backdrop. Beauty and mystery intertwine with His peace while darkness descends around me… And my gaze is caught by rays of hope.