There is no I in desert
Today was a trek for sure! To put it in FitBit terms, we hiked over 10 miles totaling over 21,000 steps and an equivalent of 80 floors in upward hiking! Our legs reflect this number so I imagine we will all have no trouble sleeping!
Across these ten miles of hiking was a theme. A theme that was set in the desert. Many people in biblical context would refer to it as wilderness. We actually began our day “wandering through the wilderness” of Makhtesh Roman located in the Negev. We did this “wandering” for about four hours. To imagine the people of Israel wandering in this land for FORTY YEARS brings great sympathy. But the greatest lesson was that God did not bring them out of the desert. He provided for them while in the desert. Water from a rock and manna from heaven are just two ways he met their needs. Though this was a time of testing, it was also a picture of freedom from slavery and provision through the impossible.
Machtesh Ramon is the most spectacular geological sight in the country. It is a window into the geological formation of the earth. The crater is 24 miles (40 km) long, 5 miles (8 km) wide, and 1600 feet (500 m) deep. The term machtesh is a geological term which means “mortar” as in mortar and pestle. Machtesh Qatan (Small) and Gadol (Large) look like mortar bowls in which grains are pounded with a pestle. This look is true of the big and little craters but not necessarily of Machtesh Ramon which is stretched out and narrow at one end.
This theme of God’s provision in the desert continued as we settled in a wadi. This is probably an unfamiliar word. A wadi is a ravine or valley that is dry except for a rainy season. The rain will fill this space which becomes a water source for animals or travelers. Brian shared Psalm 23 which speaks to the character of Our Shepherd. His leading beside still waters and on paths of righteousness in the midst of the desert shows us that He is a God of love who desires to care for us.
The third and final picture was one of hospitality, a word that many of us know we should reflect but struggle to fulfill. There are people known as Bedouins in this land who hold hospitality in highest regard. If you are traveling through the lands (quiet possibly the desert) these Bedouin communities would welcome you in, no questions asked, and bring you into their tent. For three days they would give you water, bread and time to refresh and restore your soul before journeying on to your destination. You probably came to this tent at the end of your day. Imagine how good it must have felt to be given this provision in the midst of a hard journey.
Do you see the theme?! As our Israeli guide Ronen put it, ‘there is no I in desert.’ You cannot survive the desert on your own. You need the Father and the hospitality of others.
This experience brought many other lessons that I know will remain with us for the rest of our lives. We would appreciate your prayers as tomorrow is another day in the desert with a lot of hiking! Pray for strength in body and spirit, excellent physical hydration, and eyes to see what the Lord has for us on the path! (Sidenote: Enjoy our wandering through the desert + floating in the Dead Sea pictures!)
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