Five Questions to Ask in the Desert

When the familiar abruptly rejects us, the desert willingly receives us.

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What do you do when you don’t know what to do?

How many times in our lives have we found ourselves at a dead-end: a wall of rock behind, a cliff in front, and a bended, narrow path either side?

Do I stand and wait?  Choose right/left and see where it takes me?  Jump?!

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Moses found himself in this place peering over [what seemed like] miles of sea-water, looking behind seeing an army hungry for revenge, and on both sides to fellow Israelites complaining about their current plight and fantasising about the benefits of slavery. I imagine Moses wished he could ‘beam me up Scotty’ about right then, but his spirit knew he was born for this moment.

Looking heavenward for help, as was his custom, he quieted his heart, waited for assistance, and heard the words … “Why are you crying out to me?” (Exodus 14:15)

Um –– pardon?

What happened to the God of compassion and kindness?

Surely He could give Moses a break as it was his first time being surrounded by doubters, chased by the enemy, and confronted with impossibility –– or was it?

In Exodus chapter two Moses killed an Egyptian who was beating a Hebrew, thereafter hiding his sin in the sand, believing nobody would ever know he was a murderer.

Think again Mo.

The next day [no sin is truly hidden] he saw two Hebrew men fighting and tried to break-up the fight.  One asked him if he was going to kill him ‘as you killed the Egyptian’?  At that moment Moses knew that his reputation with the Egyptians had forever changed and they would never trust him again.  He also had become an enemy to his father Pharaoh, and an alien to his people the Israelites.  There was nowhere to go except the desert.

When the familiar abruptly rejects us, the desert willingly receives us.

It was there Moses learned the character he would need in his next season: patience, strength, wisdom, hard-work, and generosity to name a few.

The last time Moses was in a position of impossible circumstances he fled; this time God asks him to fight.  There are times in the desert to flee into a place of comfort and rest, and then there are times to fight for your inheritance and purpose.  Wisdom seeks clarity, not answers, in this season.

For God knew the real answer was within Moses; he did not need God’s intervention, he needed God’s guidance.  The difference between those two is very important; one puts the onus on the Creator and one takes up the responsibility on himself.

The answer was to lift up his staff … the very staff he gained in the desert.

You see, we never leave the desert empty-handed; we always walk out with more than we carried in, leaving with the appropriate tools necessary for entering our next season.

So he held-up what had held him for over forty years.  And by raising it high he destroyed the enemy’s plans and gained a victory which is still bringing encouragement thousands of years later.

Never under-estimate the impact of a desert season.

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Now back to our original question.  What do you do when you don’t know what to do?

If you are still in the desert, remain in peace and develop as much character as possible.  If you are in transition to the Promised Land, leave the desert with as many tools as you can, for they will help defeat the enemy in coming days.

And remember: this isn’t about your future as much as it is about the future of those around and behind you.

(By the way, the future is often lacking in detail so save yourself the headache – and the time – and stop asking God for more clarity.)

Raise your hand in worship, prepare your heart in character, speak in faith to all who listen, and prepare yourself to boldly leap when He says ‘go’.

And always – always – take plunder from the desert, because you never know when someone else’s freedom will depend on those hard-fought-for-tools.

Questions for Reflection:

1. Moses took a staff – what tools are you gaining (have you gained) in this desert season?

2. Will you stop asking God ‘why’ [this happened] and begin asking Him ‘where’ [is your next assignment]?

3. How has your character been strengthened in this season?

4. How has this affected the way you see others in similar situations now?

5. Who does God want you to influence through this season?

2 thoughts on “Five Questions to Ask in the Desert

  1. Simon Winnicott says:

    Brilliant!! Thanks Jen for a timely word. Last 5 or 6 months been rather ‘sandy’!! Looking forward to you coming to WCC next month. S xx

    • Jen Baker says:

      Thank you! How funny as I was just thinking about you this morning and our coaching sessions we used to do. I was wondering if you found those helpful, as I’m considering offering sessions to people who are interested…

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