Wilderness and Desert Places

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They’d been telling us all week that being in this Israel wilderness, away from distractions of modern conveniences will practically guarantee a special encounter with the Holy One. After all, we had been staying at one of the 42 wilderness camp sites from the great exodus. This is the area that Abraham walked, where he raised Isaac and Esau. Its history is holy (set apart). But for this Montana gal, what I experience isn’t very spiritual. It was in the high 90’s, it was sticky, sand dusty, there were flies everywhere and much of the area is dry and parched.

When we were sojourning in Israel, the land had not yet entered into the wet season, which comes after the days of Sukkot. They’ve had life-giving rains since we left, praise God. He is so faithful. It is a tradition (and a necessity) to pray for rain during the days of Sukkot.

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When I first began to contemplate the lack of modern distractions that the dessert offers, I was hot and bugged by flies, as I sat in a tent replica of the kind that Abraham and his family lived in. The walls and roof were made by Bedouins, they are authentic, if not ancient.

In the desert, I wondered if I can quiet my mind long enough to hear God in the wilderness. Kol demama decca is the Hebrew phrase we’ve translated as ‘still, small voice’ – the voice that requires a very attuned and attentive ear to be able to process.

My husband Randy has been frustrated with me for some time, because I keep asking him to repeat what he’s said to me. Maybe I’m losing my hearing, I don’t know. He wants me to get it checked out when we return to Montana. If he thinks I wasn’t paying close enough attention to him, instead of just not being able to pick up the sounds he’s saying, then he usually will just say “never mind” and that’s the end of that. Truth be told, I don’t know if I can’t hear, or if I am not attentive enough. Perhaps my processing speed is slowing down, and before my mind can ‘wake up’ to listen, over half of the words he’s said are already gone. ‘Huh? What did you say?’ If there is any kind of background noise around me, I am a goner, that’s for sure.

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So there I was, in the desert wilderness of the Arava, wondering if I’m not hearing all that God is saying to me because of the background noise, or slow processing speed, or if I am not constantly on the listen for His voice.  

Kol demama decca and the desert wilderness go hand in hand. I do know this: the desert is quiet, and it causes me to realize there is still a lot of “self” that is a droning background noise that makes it more difficult for me to hear God. My needs, wants, desires, and insecurities are loud in my life. Perhaps it does take heat and sand and flies and sweat and tears for me to be reminded of what His voice sounds like. It can be painful, but it is good to be in the desert wilderness when you know God is there, too. What does your dessert wilderness look like? Look for the beauty of fellowship with God in the middle of the dry places.

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