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We don't cross alone

Salty snacks - do you consume them from time to time? I do, but I probably shouldn't. Whenever I consume them I usually end up drinking a lot of water - because they make me very, very thirsty. In the end, they leave me thirsty for a long time, not just while I am taking them in or because I chugged a few glasses of water along with them. Our bodies simply cannot process all the sodium in the salty treats without a whole lot of water. In fact, whenever we find ourselves in the midst of the "excesses" of life, we often crave what we most need to help us deal with the excess.

God—you're my God! I can't get enough of you! I've worked up such hunger and thirst for God, traveling across dry and weary deserts. (Psalm 63:1)

God made us in such a way that we crave what we most need to deal with what we find ourselves enduring! Sometimes we are "enduring" stuff because of our own doing - like when I eat a huge bowl of Cheez-its or other salty snack. The sodium from these snacks cause me to "crave" more of the very thing which will help my body deal with the excess of sodium I just consumed. Wouldn't it be wonderful if there was something like that in our lives that made us crave more of God's presence and holiness in our lives?

Our psalmist gives us an example of traveling across dry and weary deserts as a source of both hunger and thirst. We all have them - deserts are those dry places that leave us weary and thirsting for something that satisfies that thirst. We may live in the greenest parts of the world, but we endure deserts! What are the deserts you endure? The desert of loneliness? How about the desert of despair, hopelessness, or fear? Maybe this is the time in your life where you are enduring the desert of brokenness. Regardless of the desert, the 'relief' is the same - Christ Jesus!

The desert of loneliness is very real to some of us. We may find ourselves alone and without familiar acquaintances. Perhaps it is the result of a move to a new locale, the loss of a spouse, or the lack of solid friends we can pour our hearts out to from time to time. Regardless of the cause, we find ourselves enduring a sense of loneliness - of being truly alone. At the core of loneliness is the idea of being without a companion in the journey. This is a place of isolation - whether you wanted it or not. In the place of isolation, we often find ourselves without the people or things we have found ourselves relying on in the past. As we examine the purpose of this desert, we might find it hard to imagine a "good" purpose! Being isolated is definitely NOT God's plan for us humans - he made us specifically to "relate" to others, not to be alone. So, what "good" comes out of this desert?

Well, I can only share some of the things that have come out of my times of being on a journey in this desert. I have learned I actually NEED other people. There is nothing more revealing about our "dependence" on the feedback of others, or even the sense of hope rendered in a simple touch, than to be left suddenly alone. We need connection. In fact, believe it or not, we crave it! I believe God may actually allow some of us to walk this desert to draw us closer to those he has given in our lives. You know the saying, "Absence makes the heart grow fonder"? I think it is realized the most in the desert of loneliness - the alone driving us closer to who it is we need! God's lessons to you may be a little different, but if you will allow him to speak to you in your desert, he will reveal the lessons!

The desert of despair comes and this is a most difficult desert to endure. It is the one we walk through, but have lost hope for some reason - we are without any sense of things ever getting better. In this desert, we often find ourselves out so far on the limb, the weight of our burden so great, hearing the cracking of the limb as it strains to keep us upright. We are "stuck" - we cannot go further out on the limb or even turn back. This is indeed a most difficult desert to cross. Yet, the most hopeless place is often the place our faith begins to take flight! In the desert of despair, we begin to look for solutions we often ignore when things are smooth sailing. Things like intimate prayer with our Maker - pouring out our hearts to him with eager desperation. In the moment of despair, don't we find ourselves looking back to God? Did you catch that? We are looking "back" to God! It is an amazing thing, but despair often drives us back to God - maybe even without ever recognizing just how comfortable we had become without him!

The desert of brokenness is quite hard to endure. The very thing we need in this desert is the very thing we have absolutely no ability to accomplish on our own. It is only by the restorative and regenerating touch of our God we cross this desert. We may be "broken" by a whole lot of things - bad relationships, words spoken that have left our emotions scarred and damaged, or just a series of bad choices which resulted in us being "undone" by life.  In the desert of brokenness, we need "repair", don't we? What we drink the most freely of in this desert is God's grace. It is indeed a refreshing and restorative "drink". Regardless of the desert, the purpose of the desert is to cause us to hunger and thirst. Hunger for the best, thirst for what will truly refresh. We may have a lot of desert-crossing in our days. Just remember this: No desert is without hunger or thirst of some kind. What we do with the hunger or thirst determines the outcome of the desert-crossing! Just sayin!

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