Depths and Deserts

About two-thirds of the surface of the planet we call earth is covered by water: oceans, lakes and rivers.  Of the land which comprises the remainder of the planet, fully one-third is defined as desert: areas of almost no viability for sustaining life without artificial means.  What an intriguing balance in the world about us, that so much is uninhabitable, places where we can pass through, but not abide.

Have you ever wondered about the times in life when you feel "in over your head", or as though wandering through the desert?  These experiences are common to us all.  Perhaps you feel as though they are all too frequent.  They are certainly times and places in life where we do not want to abide for long, if at all.  And yet the world about us tells us something of the story of the character and work of God.  We might have cause to presume that the experience of being out-of-our-depth or in the desert might be relatively frequent, and even a part of a balanced life.

In addition we note the Old Testament commands that arable land be left fallow every seventh year in order to allow it to recover.  Even the fertile parts of creation were called to rest from their abundant productivity, lest they be totally drained of their life.

As painful and difficult as these experiences often are, they are part of our life's rhythm.  It is from the ocean depths that the rain which nourishes the land comes.  Even the desert has its part to play in the creation.

Are we to chase these experiences?  Some feel it a challenge to do so.  But most of us (for good reason) avoid them when we can.  They are times of pain and emotion which we find difficult to bear.  And yet we must learn to cherish such times, not for their own sake, but because of what they teach us, about ourselves, and about the God that we serve.

June 23, 1996
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