Thursday, January 7, 2016

Streams in the Desert

On the first day of this New Year, with our friends in Texas fast asleep, our ParkwayHills tribe of 35 made its way out of ancient Jerusalem and into the Judean desert. We were leaving to see Qumran, the Dead Sea and Masada - and because the hills of Jerusalem had experienced naught but rain for days - our cold, wet troop was looking forward to this respite, anticipating the warmth and sunshine of the desert.

As we traveled along, our guide commented to me of the rarity of rain at the bottom of the Judean Hills southwest of Jerusalem, but warned of the possibility of our road becoming impassable due to rain water running down from Jerusalem and the surrounding mountains - causing the dry wadis to become active - and spilling across our highway making travel dangerous or impossible. Looking about I thought his worry unnecessary. The area was as dry as a bone, save the drops now hitting our windshield, which he'd just said amounted to only a few millimeters per year.

As we moved south, with the Dead Sea on our left and the mountains to our right, a strange sight appeared. At each place where a dry wadi abutted our road, whether with bridge or not, cars were parked with people standing beside them looking down the crevice of the wadi and towards the mountain top. Our driver, Dubi, and guide, Danny pointed toward the people and began talking to each other excitedly in Hebrew. I couldn't wait to hear them speak an explanation in English to me, so I jumped quickly to ask, "what's going on?" "Oh Pastor Sam," Danny replied, "the people are waiting to see an unusual sight." "They have come to watch the water cascade from the mountains and fill the wadis below." "It is a powerful sight, and one of the favorite things for the people of this area to see."

In Isaiah 43:19, God said this: Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.

The NIV translates the word "rivers" as "streams." But, either way, the picture from God's Word to His people became ever more real for me as I gazed at this sight. I thought, 'here they are waiting for this steam, this river to flow - not knowing that God has already done an even greater thing than what they are looking for through His Son, our LORD, Jesus Christ.'

Now that I am far away from the land of Israel - and back in my surroundings of traffic and shopping, football and news, Facebook and friends, I can't help but wonder of my own life.  Am I simply standing by the road watching for sights that pale in comparison to that which I've already been given - life in Christ and fellowship with Him?"

When God told Israel to look (behold) the streams in the desert, He did so because it was something unusual AND something the dry desert desperately needed - water. He did this to show them His ability to make any wasteland flourish. This was something only He could do - both in the desert AND in their hearts.

So now I am back home, and I am praying I shall not forget this sight of something new - of streams in the desert nor my view of the people waiting to see it. And... hoping for more! Hoping I will also always recall the lesson it teaches. For, indeed - Christ is my 'stream in the desert,' and, certainly He is all I need.

Pastor Sam

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