Israel had so many lessons that it is hard to know which ones to pick and write about, in fact I believe my next book will probably be about the lessons I learned in Israel.
It is time to talk about the desert.
I was not aware that there are 4 words in Hebrew that mean desert, English only has 1 so in translations the true meaning of the word can get quite lost.
Our tour guide explained to us that the word "desert" can mean:
1) to speak: be ready to hear
2) leader/leadership: the one who speaks is the leader
3) to eliminate everything in the way: exterminator, to clear the ground
4) suitable place for flocks: the pasture for flocks
It was pointed out that the desert is the place to prepare us for the Lord.
I was also not aware that desert and dry place were 2 entirely different places. The desert still gets some rain, approximately 20 mm per year so it does have life in it.
The dry place has no rain which means no life.
A Dry Place Beside the Road
My first 5 days in Israel were met with a lot of rain and I hated it because I was so cold and had to go buy warm clothes, the country was rejoicing because rain is seen as a blessing. In fact, the country of Israel has had 5-6 years of draught and they had been praying for rain. They were loving the rain! (perspective and I too eventually came to see the rain as a blessing)
Our group travelled into the desert and for 2 nights we camped at a Bedouin campground, complete with Bedouin tents and food. Upon entering my little tent, I noticed that on my pillow was a piece of poop from some kind of animal, this made me a little skeptical of the desert experience! But being a camper for years, I picked up the pillow took it to the tent entrance and flicked off the poop, then returned the pillow and simply turned it over. I then, searched the entire tent for any signs, traces of an animal, not finding anything else, I zipped up the tent and went on my way. A desert adventure!
The food on my trip was absolutely a delight wherever we went and the desert was no exception. I was a little taken back when we were brought a wonderful exquisite cup of tea and we spent quite a while trying to decipher what kind of amazing herbs or plants from the land the taste was. When I asked at the kitchen, she took out a box of store bought tea called Lemon/Lime; even the desert has modern convenience.
We traveled into the desert and were taken to a place beside a Wadi (a dried stream/river bed) to sit, be quiet and think for a while. The desert is rocky, not sandy like I imagined and finding a comfy spot to sit without sharp rocks was the first order of business.
I sat for a while staring at the rocky cliffs around me seeing only dirt and rocks (opening picture). After a while I noticed the rocks at the top of the cliffs are small, pebble type rocks while coming down the cliff the rocks got bigger and at the bottom by the edge of the Wadi they were large, bigger than I could carry. The really big ones fell into the Wadi. The big boulders at the bottom, in the river bed, got swept away when the Wadi floods.
You see, Wadi’s kill a number of people every year in the middle east - they look harmless. Remember it was raining my first 5 days in Israel. A flash flood is a normal thing in the drylands. The arid ground is so dry and hard that the water does not seep in, it plunges down the Wadi’s without any kind of notice, sweeping away everything in its path. Constant warnings about the danger of Wadi’s is very real.
This thought came to me while I was sitting staring up at the rocky cliffs. Our problems, trials start as pebbles, we continually dwell on them and they get larger. We try to fix, plan and continue to dwell on them and they get even larger until they become boulders that weigh us down, eventually crippling us or squeezing the life out of us.
The Bible says in 1 Peter 5:7a, “cast your cares on Him” – throw them into the Wadi! Let God take over the problem and let Him take care of it and wash it away. Sound easy? Probably not as easy as we would like it to be, but it is true that whatever we dwell on will take over our life and turn into boulders that are too great for us to handle.
As I was sitting there in the desert staring at the rocks and cliffs, I noticed a little plant with yellow flowers down by my feet. There is life in the desert. I started to stare around at the ground and I noticed more little plants, more little yellow flowers. These plants were not big, just small compact but I wondered, which plant was the first one that settled there, planting itself into the crags of the rocks. It survived, grew, bore seeds and scattered its seeds all around the desert bringing patches of life to the landscape.
It astounded me when I started to look around, how much vegetation was around me, sitting there in what I thought was a barren rocky desert.
We, you and I can be that one seed that settles in, grows where we are planted and spreads our seeds over a barren landscape all around us, to bring life to an otherwise dead area.
If life is looking dark and dry, much like the desert? Remember you can be the one seed needed to change the landscape!