“No human creature ever entered a desert oasis without joy, nor left it without regret.” –Zane Grey
“He hideth my soul in the cleft of the rock
That shadows a dry, thirsty land;
He hideth my life in the depths of His love,
And covers me there with His hand.
And covers me there with His hand.”
How many bones lie just a hillside away from the oasis, the spring of life? How many, with just a little more effort, would have made it over the rise to see the refreshing water below? How many, if they would have just endured a little longer, and not given in to the struggle of life would have made it to the reviving water? How many, how many, if they would not have parted from the way, gotten disoriented, would have made it from one water tank to another? Their stories will never be told, and if one would have to come across their bleached bones in the wilderness can only surmise what happened.
If we really grasp the lessons that the wilderness will teach we find it is not for our destruction, but for our growth and salvation. All self-sufficiency is stripped away. As Zeb Long points out, “In the wilderness the veneer of meaning is stripped away. Here we fall into the abyss of chaos and beyond, into a deeper abyss of God’s mysterious love. In the wilderness we meet the devil in a thousand forms who tempts and torments us. We meet ourselves as enemy and friend. We encounter God in a combat of opposing wills.”
With effort, with trust in God, with the development of your character your will not be among those fallen along the wayside. The dangers of the wilderness are real, be sure of it. It is in the wilderness, however, that we will find true knowledge of ourselves. We will come to know who we really are. We will also find that our knowledge of God grows and our relationship deepens. It is in the wilderness that we come to realize the grace of God. So as you gaze on those high rugged peaks and feel the wind swoop down through the canyons, understand the height of the wilderness. Gaze out on the desert, look into the canyons and the heated valleys of the desert and understand the depth of the wilderness. Let these fill your soul and then look into the face of God from whose love nothing can separate us.
The wilderness, a dangerous place. Life can be lost; a person can die and never be found. Life can also be gain; a person can die to self, and find real life in Christ. That is the main challenge of walking in the wilderness; it is the challenge to stand alone and then walk with God. The pity is when man is in the wilderness and never finds God, they only see despair.
“Behold, I will do something new, Now it will spring forth; Will you not be aware of it? I will even make a roadway in the wilderness, Rivers in the desert.” –Isaiah 43:19 (NASB)