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Struggling to Find Life’s Beauty? Maybe There’s None to See.

March 13, 2012

Ever been disappointed when something wasn’t quite what you anticipated?

Recently our family drove through the Arizona Desert. In the past, I’ve seen pictures of deserts revealing a unique beauty full of colorful sunsets, undisturbed vistas of sand with postcard-like sprinklings of cacti. However, my ride through the desert was NOTHING like that. It was full-blown ugly!

It was hot. The sand was blowing. The cacti were jagged and mean looking. The sand was full of patches of weeds, brush, occasional fences, yet not deserted enough to be “romantic”. It was 78 miles on I-10 between gas stations and indoor plumbing.

I know there are “prettier” stretches of desert. However, I felt cheated. In my mind, the desert was supposed to display a rugged but unique beauty. Stinkin’ desert.

In the Christian culture we sometimes talk about “desert experiences”. We even romanticize it. It almost becomes a religious trophy when Christians share their desert experience(s). We imply, “I’ve gotten a trophy or two have you?” “Aren’t they special?” Then we share the horrific details of our desert with pride. A newer Christian may think, “I want one of those. They sound nice and helpful.” Then the desert comes and POW! Ugly!

After 40 years in a literal desert, Moses discovered and eventually accomplished God’s ultimate purpose for his life.

In the desert, Moses learned how to lead others through his old “stomping grounds”. He learned how to wait on God and how to hear His voice. It would be easy to romanticize Moses’ desert experience. After all how cool would it have been to see a non-consuming burning bush? Or, how cool would it be to see your shepherd’s staff turn into a snake and then back into a staff? But that’s TWO DAYS. Two days in 40 years. Two days in 14,600. That’s NOT very exciting or romantic. In fact, that sounds horrifically boring to me. Sorta like that desert I saw as we crossed Arizona. Pure ugly.

I don’t want to romanticize something that’s ugly. Maybe we do that with all our desert-talk. We’re quick to say, “It’s okay. God’s gonna use this down the road.” True. But maybe we should first recognize the ugliness and difficulty desert the person is experiencing.

Are you suffering? Hurting? Does your relationship with God feel like you’re stuck on a desert floor?

As you look around it may be ugly. Nothing pretty, encouraging, or even hopeful in sight. It may lack the rugged beauty you anticipated. You may feel cheated. Hang in there. It’s a desert and they’re ugly.

As God walks with you, someday He’ll whisper these amazing words to you:

“You have made your way around this hill country long enough; now turn north.” Duet. 2:3


From → Ministry, Theology

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