The harshness of the desert is no secret. It’s written on the pages of history and visible for our eyes to see. Days, weeks, months, years spent in the desert are often accompanied by tears, weeping, crying out to God.
He leads some to the desert to lead them back to himself. In the lonely desolation, when all else is stripped away, it can seem as if God is the only thing left.
Or maybe he was the only thing to begin with.
He leads some to the desert to be made new. Under the blazing sun and scorching wind, we feel like everything has been sucked out of us, and nothing remains but a hollow shell of what we once were. Then unexpectedly, our eye catches something in the distance. Something strange and mysterious, shifting yet strong and unyielding.
We know that heat; the burning is no stranger to us. Yet this is different.
It’s not actually burning.
Engulfed yet not consumed.
A fire that scorches but does not destroy.
Things made new.
Some discover that the scorching heat of the desert served to strip away all the excess, the broken pieces that were no longer needed, the packaging and layers and all the extra that had been getting in the way. While we moaned of dehydration and weakness, we failed to notice that we were not, in fact, burning up; we were being refined. And the part that is left behind is better and stronger than we ever thought possible.