Rethinking Desert Seasons
The book of Exodus tells the story about the Israelites’ deliverance from slavery. This story is where we learn that when God led the Israelites out of Egypt and into the Promised Land, they traveled through a desert. Many Christians see this desert as a metaphor for a season of life. The time we experience before God leads us into our Promised Land.
A common characteristic of this season is waiting. In the desert we wait for God to fulfill the promises he made us. As a result, these desert seasons are thought of negatively.
But was the desert so bad for the Israelites? They had the fire at night, and the pillar of cloud which were visible symbols of God’s presence. They had the words of God audibly spoken and then written for them to read. They had manna provided daily and water spouting from rocks. They had the tabernacle that housed his glory and was a center for worship within walking distance of their home. God directed their steps day by day.
The Israelites were instructed in the law to love the Lord with all of their hearts, minds and strength. For anyone who obeyed this command, the desert would have had all they needed to be satisfied.
What did the Promised Land hold for them? Houses, vineyards, fields, milk and honey. How do these things compare to glory, and fire and the visible presence of God? In the Promised Land these things would not continue. Most would live far from the tabernacle.
Desert seasons are typically considered times to endure. Perhaps we should think about it differently. Maybe it’s the desert seasons that are the most precious in our lives. What we gain during these times is the substrate we build everything else on.