“Leave The Desert Behind….” | John 20:14

“At this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not realize that it was Jesus.”

John 20:14

In the northern plains of Chile, you will find the Atacama Desert, also known as the driest place on earth. How dry? Scientists compare it to Mars. NASA goes there to practice their landings.

Every five to seven years, Atacama gets a major downpour – years-worth of rain, sometimes in just twenty-four hours. Then two-hundred species bloom.

The seeds that have been underground, just surviving in the driest desert ever, are strong enough make it on five to seven years of no rain: The seeds are made that way. Or they evolved to be like that. They can make it, but just barely. No flower wants to live without water that long. No flower should.

It’s beautiful – the Atacama bloom. It’s kind of miraculous that this happens. I would love to see it in person. I would love to see it, but I wouldn’t want to live there. The years between the rains – the famine between the blossoms – I’m not sure I could handle that.

When God speaks, it is like water for your soul.

The human body can go without water for about three days. Water does a bunch of essential things:

Your ability to think and speak clearly.

It lubricates your joints.

Water is like a bouncer for toxins in your body.

Water is the UPS that delivers oxygen throughout your body.

We need to hear God, like we need water to live and work and play. We can go a long time without hearing a word from God, but it’s never pretty: You can’t bloom or thrive in a desert, in a famine.

The prophets of Israel spoke about famine and deserts. The prophet Amos (8:11-13) said this: A time was coming when Israel would experience a famine of the Word – a desert where God’s voice could not be heard.

In the time of Amos, Israel split into two kingdoms: A national divorce. People claiming to speak for God on both sides. Most of the people lived in comfort and were prosperous. Businesses throughout the land tried to exploit and dominate those they should serve. The poor were overlooked. So, it’s no mystery, in all this, that the people couldn’t hear God.

Amos said this about all that: “This is what the Lord God showed me: behold, a basket of summer fruit.” (8:1-2) That sounds good and hopeful. But it meant that there would be no harvest on the other side of that basket. The basket was it. The famine was next.

Again and again, the prophets following Amos, came to Israel to tell them that a famine was possible. And then it happened for much longer than anyone would’ve liked: Between the last prophet of Israel and Jesus, four-hundred years of no water, no Word from God. Four-hundred years of spiritual Atacama desert.

What has the desert been like for you? I mean: the last few years?

Spiritually, what I see, is that most of us have been in a desert zone:

Our nation, like Amos’, sometimes feels like two, different kingdoms.

The emotional and spiritual isolation and effects of COVID are far from over.

Division, doubt and death have dried up our land.

We are, all of us, a little like the disciples who went to the tomb, the day after the Crucifixion. Like Mary, we can barely hear the Lord, who stands right in front of us (Philippians 4:5).

With Jesus, the disciples had three years of water, after four-hundred years of famine: Three years of blooming in a desert. Then division, doubt, and death did their worst, in just three days. The disciples scatter.  The strongest disciple in enough fear that he denies Jesus. The shoot of Jesse – the flowering work of Christ – ripped from the stump and nailed to a Cross.

The disciples’ experience of division, death, and doubt reached right into their hearts, and made them think: “Okay, was that it? Will God stop speaking, again? Should we prepare for famine, for the desert?”

If division, death, and doubt have done their worst to you in the past few years, it’s time to leave the desert: Turn to Him in prayer, in a local church, and wait for the rain.

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