Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland. Isaiah 43:18-19 NIV
Today’s post is part 2 of the Israel Chronicles which is a series of posts about things that impacted me on my recent trip to Israel. Complete with photos! 🙂
In the Bible, there are many verses where God promises to make streams in the desert, rivers in the wasteland (Isaiah 43:19) and that water will gush forth in the wilderness. (Isaiah 35:6) He promises to turn the desert into pools of water, parched ground into springs (Isaiah 41:18; Psalm 107:35), and pour out water on the thirsty land. (Isaiah 44:3) These verses have never been more alive to me than they have since my recent visit to Israel. Until then the best visual I had of desert life was Eastern Washington!
Traveling along the coast of the Dead Sea, I got a truer picture of the intensity of REAL desert terrain. The stark barrenness of the desert
on one side and the salty lifeless sea on the other. Desert living doesn’t get any lower than that–literally– because the Dead Sea is the lowest place on earth at about 1300 feet below sea level.
Similarly, most of us have been at life’s lowest points as we have involuntarily participated in Desert Living of a spiritual kind–which by-the-way is nothing like the glamorous magazine namesake. This I know from personal experience!
As Hannah Hurnard masterfully illustrates in her book, Hinds’ Feet on High Places, all believers must travel to the wilderness/desert at some time in their journey. Presently, I am reading this book to my youngest daughter and the terrain along the Dead Sea is what I envision as Much-Afraid is led to the desert by her companions, Sorrow and Suffering. She calls out in the wilderness to the Shepherd and he comes to her side. The Shepherd tells her, “All of my servants on their way to the High Places have had to make this detour through the desert. They came to learn the secret of royalty.”
I think of David and how after being anointed by Samuel to be king, he spent much time in the wilderness fleeing from King Saul. All the while God was preparing him for royalty. In 1 Samuel 23, we see that even in his wilderness journey, he finds a place of refreshing in En Gedi, an oasis in the desert. (1 Samuel 23:29)
Our tour group was so fortunate to stop and visit En Gedi while driving along the coast of the Dead Sea. We saw first hand, in the natural, what God promises to do in the spiritual–wonderfully provide gushing water in one of the most unexpected places, in this case, the barren Judean desert.
The photo below gives a great view of the desert terrain in this area.
We arrived at En Gedi Nature Reserve and National Park and this is what we saw at the beginning of the David Stream Trail–desert!
As we hiked the trail we began to see little streams along the way.
The terrain was very rocky as we ascended up the trail.
You couldn’t get more deserty than this! Is that a word?
Eventually the trail plateaued and we arrived at the lower falls.
What a beautiful oasis in the middle of the harsh desert!
After climbing higher on the trail, we reached the David Waterfall
Here is another view of the David Waterfall.
En Gedi has forever embedded in my heart and mind that even in the dry, seemingly barren wildernesses of life, God’s is doing something new. The wilderness is always the preparation for something big! The Israelites traveled through the wilderness before entering the Promised Land. David spent time in the wilderness before becoming King. Jesus himself was in the wilderness right before He started the greatest ministry that has ever been!
Many times in my own journey, I have seen the miraculous after a wilderness experience. (See The Wilderness Will Rejoice and Blossom)
Dear friend, if you find yourself at a low point in your life and you are weary of walking in your “wilderness”, be encouraged. He who IS the Living Water (John 4:13-14) is there in the midst of your desert. LH