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The Desert

The Song of Songs is the story of a young woman’s journey from shame and fruitlessness to freedom and immense productivity. It ends with her coming out of the desert leaning on her lover. The Song is a vivid picture of our journeys into true fruitfulness.

I don’t think there can be anyone who hasn’t been through a ‘wilderness experience’, when life feels, well, just ‘full of emptiness’. Before entering the Promised Land, Israel had to endure forty years of wilderness. When Elijah ran for his life from Jezebel, he journeyed forty days and forty nights through the desert. Jesus spent the same time in the wilderness being tempted by Satan. John the Baptist spent most of his life in the desert; and Paul spent something like three years in a desert region before he began his ministry. God’s disobedient people had to endure the wilderness experience of exile.

Hosea had this word for them: ‘Therefore I am now going to allure her; I will lead her into the wilderness and speak tenderly to her. There I will give her back her vineyards, and will make the Valley of Achor a door of hope. There she will respond as in the days of her youth, as in the day she came up out of Egypt’ (Hosea 2:14-15).

As I’ve pondered all those desert stories from the Bible, one thing stands out. The desert might have been a hard place, and it might have been a testing place, but it was a place to know God’s provision and meet with Him. It was where you could discover what it means to ‘lean on Him’.

Sometimes it feels as if God is far away. We might have all the comforts, but lack His presence. This is sometimes called ‘the dark night of the soul’. The desert is different. It’s where the comforts of life aren’t there, and all we have is God. I think that the Covid pandemic has been a bit like that for many of us. The relationships, activities, and opportunities to meet with friends and families – these are all things that have suffered. Perhaps, like me, you’ve felt a bit frustrated and under-used. But, maybe, God is giving us the opportunity to learn to ‘lean on Him’, to find in Him a new level of love, support and care, to hear Him ‘speak tenderly’ to us, and prepare us for a new season of fruitful living.

Prayer: Father, thank You that, though it may be hard at times, the desert is an opportunity to get to know You better, and to experience more of Your loving provision. I’m sorry for the times when I’ve leaned for support on things that haven’t come from You. Please help me to rely more on You and to experience the riches of Your loving provision. Amen.
 

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Scripture

Who is this coming up from the wilderness leaning on her lover?
Song of Songs 8:5, Tree of Life Version

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Today's Writer

Richard Griffiths When Richard retired from full-time Anglican ministry in Chichester in 2009, he and his wife, Sue, moved to Northumberland. He joined the ministry team at Ellel Grange in 2011, where he and Sue regularly ministered at healing retreats. They are now helping on the "Explore" team. They greatly enjoy walking in the beautiful Northumberland countryside and along the coast. Richard loves seeing God bringing people into a strong personal relationship with Him as their Father and the healing that comes with it.

Richard Griffiths


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