Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Desert Experience

Everyone at one point or other has to go through a season of spiritual desert experience, whether you are a young Christian or matured or in full time ministry or even a pastor. We can see almost all hero in the the Bible went through the desert experience. Jesus Himself went through this when His friend betrayed Him, deserted Him and ultimately, when He hung on the Cross, He cried, "My God, My God, why have You abandon Me?"

So, first things first, if you are in this desert experience right now, don’t worry – it’s normal, all of us need to go thru it.

What is a Spiritual desert experience?

When a soul experiences a period where it cannot sense or feel God. No matter what we do, we can read the Bible, we can even try to worship God or even pray … we cannot feel or experience what we used to feel with God.

It’s like our soul is like experiencing a spiritual drought, its dry and hot …. God seem to be so far away, we do not feel the presence of God and at times wonder if He has left us alone to ourselves or and has abandoned us, especially in the time when we need Him the most, we cannot feel Him ..

It is also during these times that we feel that our live is at a standstill … nothing seems to be moving or going anywhere …. Or our lives is moving ... round and round .... in a circle. During this season, we seem to have lost our sense of direction in life, do not know where we are going and there is a sense of meaninglessness … purposelessness, emptiness and boredom seems to sip into our perfectly OK lives.

Spiritual Desert can come in different forms : -
in relationship – marriage, kids, siblings, friends or disappointment with life, discouragement, depression, temptation or even can come in the form of our jobs or in our studies.

Allow me to briefly go through reasons why we go through spiritual desert. I break the reason into two main category : firstly, it is a self inflicted desert and secondly, it is cause by a normal natural part of a growing up process, spiritual growth.

a) Self inflicted

i. Prolong sin & disobedience - we see this example in the 40years of desert that Israel went thru : (Number 32:13, Ps 78 : 8-11, 17 - 19). Here, the duration of our desert season depends on our ability to response to God in obedience.

ii. Do not trust God (Ps 78:22) and is not faithful towards God (Ps 78:8, 37)

iii. Physical tiredness (Elijah) (1 Kings 19 : 7-10) v 10 - when we are physically tired, we push our body to hard to the point where we are running or operating from a empty tank .....

iv. A “cooling off” environment (King David) ( 2 Sam 11 : 1-2, Psalms 51 : 11-12). This is where we think that we need a break in our lives and began to 'relax", let down our guards ... and BAM, the next thing you know, you have entered into a desert. What do we do to relax and destress? Guard what you see, hear and soaked on. It affects your spirit man.

b) Part of “growing up” process

This is a normal part of our walk with God. Every great spiritual hero we want to be or admire in the Bible or in history went thru this season. Moses, Elijah, Jonah, David, Joseph, John ...

In the spiritual life, the desert experience is a time of preparation and deepening of our life with the Lord.

i. God uses the desert experience as training ground and preparation before He launch us out to fulfill the vision of the man and woman He want us to be (Moses : Acts 7)

ii. God use the desert experience to draw us to Him (Moses : 40years in wilderness before God appear to him in the burning bush, God called Moses up to Mt Sinai to fellowship with God)

iii. God uses the desert experience to test our hearts (Deut 8:2, 16)

iv. Prolong temptation (Matt 4:1,11)

How then do we response to our desert experience

i. Humility of the soul - if our season is self inflicted, we need to humbly come before God in repentance and if our season is due to our spiritual growth, the we need to humbly accept the portion and lot that God has given to us in that season. Let's soften our hearts and allow God to do the deep cleansing and healing work in our souls.

ii. Dependency on God - during this season, our sole dependency must be from God and not our spouse, our pastor or money or any other thing. God has to be the One we depend on.

iii. Connectivity with God - we must also need to make sure that we attune our spiritual antenna towards God in this season so that we can hear and discern what He wants to do and tell us in this season. Indeed when we seek Him with all our heart, He shall be found by us. He is give us the strategy and keys get out of this season.

iv. Dig deep through praise and worship - through out Psalms, we can see how David and the psalmist dig deep in praise and worship .. to seek for the living waters and then to unlock the rivers of living waters to run in and through their soul once again ...

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