Jeff Lyle Christian Blog and Commentary

Scorched Places & Soul Deserts

  • Jeff Lyle blogspot for Jeff Lyle of TransformingTruth
  • 2015 Aug 05

I know what it is to live in dryness. Days spent in a baked-earth reality have been my personal Christian experience more often than I care to admit. Beyond the fact that it is embarrassing, I have a strong sense that it is simply wrong. It is wrong for an individual who has been totally forgiven and welcomed by God not to experience spiritual vitality. It is wrong for one who has been granted access to Heaven’s throne to speak with the pygmy-prayers. Made to robustly sing praise to my Redeemer, how can I spend days with an arid soul? But it has been true. Not once or twice but sometimes for uninterrupted months. How can the saints of God feel like the sands of Gaza?

“And the Lord will guide you continually and satisfy your desire in scorched places …” – Isaiah 58:11 {ESV}

May I preach for a moment please? The most important part of the above verse is the unilateral declaration that God continues to guide us when we are making our home in the scorched places. When you are dry it doesn’t seem like God is anywhere near you. Your senses preach a gospel of abandonment to you:

“God doesn’t enjoy your parched outlook. Everyone sees the dust on your soul. You better come up with something to polish it up.”

“God is disappointed with your Sahara of the spirit. I dub you Sister Sand-dune. Your new name is Brother Burnout.”

“Your faith isn’t genuine. Real Christians don’t think like you think or feel like you feel. Faker. Phony. Hypocrite.”

Yet God speaks over your faulty senses through Isaiah 58:11 and states that He is not only there with you in the scorched place but that He is guiding you continually. He may not be accentuating His presence but He has certainly not removed it. Going further with what is written there, we read that God is revealed as satisfying our desires when the sapping of our strength by the scorching sands becomes our reality. How can this be? Well, it has been my personal experience that God ordains dry times in my life to break me of my addiction to the cool, moistened breeze of pleasant circumstances. We are ease-addicts and we are so often searching for a fix. We eat to please ourselves. We spend money we do not have to ease our stress. Sleep is our rewarding entitlement and indulgent slumber is sometimes our drug of choice. Sex, booze, vanity, travel and recreation all promise us a deeper satisfaction than they could ever deliver. So we are constantly searching. We are pleasure chasers and it doesn’t matter that the pleasures we sometimes chase are not necessarily bad things. They become bad when we wrongly believe that we cannot live without them. An idol is an idol no matter what material it is made with. Our desires lead us deeper into our deserts and that is when the dryness starts affecting all that we see, hear, taste and smell. It gets all up in us and we find ourselves lost and parched.

This is the place where God goes quiet on us. He lets the dunes do their duty in our hearts. Our pleasure inthings diminishes and we soon lose the will to pursue the former delights. At some point, we have almost zero pleasure in anything at all and this is where we wrestle with the more sublime components of life. Why aren’t we fulfilled? Where did our pleasure run off to? Why don’t we experience the satisfaction we used to? God remains quiet. We are worried that we aren’t blessed anymore. We are afraid someone might notice that we’ve… lost something. Eventually the dryness gets extreme enough to dislodge us from our denials – we cannot take it any longer. We cry out to God, sometimes for weeks or months with no change. He doesn’t say a word. We make hurried attempts to regain connection through rote religious maneuvers. Church doesn’t do it for us. Reading books about the spiritual life leave us with wandering or benumbed minds as we turn the pages. Our companions cannot help us. It occurs at different places for each of us but, somewhere along the way, we get desperate enough to understand that nothing short of a renewal from God will suffice. So we get hungry for Him. We pant for Him like a deer before the watered brook. The scorched places have brought us low and we cannot bear the thought of going further in our thirst. We only want God. We know that He is what our dried out soul needs. Not His gifts, not His favor, not His help…

Just Him. Just God in the way He wishes to reveal Himself to us. We stop dictating to Him what needs to happen. No more do we blame others. Our eyes are lifted to the hills “from whence cometh our help”. We end up learning that He has always been our deepest desire but we could never sense that until He put us in the scorched places where lesser desires go to die. Dryness brought us to desperation which awakened us to dependence and defined our desire. It is there that we find that desire satisfied – right there in the middle of our barrenness where the birds did not chirp and the wind refused to breeze upon us. You see, he reorientedour desires and then satisfied them with Himself.

If you are in the desert today then I hope you will believe Him when He says that He is continually guiding you. He has not gone away – nor will He. Is there something you desire more than Him? Honestly, is there? Ask Him to affirm His words by satisfying your desire in directing that desire to its highest end. Ask Him to cause you to desire Him. That is a prayer which He will always affirm. It is then that you will be satisfied and your desert will bloom.