The dryness is so hard. But can I give you some comedic relief? At the end of Spongebob Squarepants the Movie (2004), there is a scene when Spongebob and Patrick are under a heating lamp and drying out. Yet in their dryness, they say that they “made it and did alright,” while bursting out into song. Beautiful friendship. Each shed a single tear before eventually turning into a dried out starfish and sponge. However, their teardrops cause the outlet of the lamp to spark and release a cloud of smoke into the smoke detector, and then the sprinklers go off. The water revives them into Spongebob and Patrick once again. It also revives all of the other dead sea-creatures in the room. If you have no idea what I’m talking about, click HERE for the scene.
I wanted to give this scene of Spongebob the Movie as a reference to you because I want to encourage you. The desert season never lasts too long. In God’s timing, He will take you out of it. But, the most difficult part about being in the desert season is that God seeks for obedience. Why? At the precipice of the desert season, there is a promise. Because he cares so much more about our character than our short bursts of passion that eventually leads to burn out. The desert prepares us for the promise, and it is the character that develops in the desert that can sustain the passion and fire of God. The quality that God wants to develop in the desert season is obedience because obedience is required for the fulfillment of His promises.
The desert season is where God teaches you who you are, as His people. Before the Israelites were delivered from Egypt, the Lord says that He intends to fulfill the promise He made with Abraham.
This is the promise of the Lord:
I am the Lord, and I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians, and I will deliver you from slavery to them, and I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with great acts of judgment. I will take you to be my people, and I will be your God, and you shall know that I am the Lord your God, who has brought you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians. I will bring you into the land that I swore to give to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob. I will give it to you for a possession. I am the Lord. (Exodus 6:6-8)
When the Israelites were brought out of Egypt, God sent them right into the wilderness. He led them to wander for 40 years because no matter how much God proved to them that He was the Lord and that they were His people, they still had the mindset of slaves and orphans. Though they were taken out of Egypt, Egypt had to be taken out of them. This was the time and place where the Israelites needed to depend upon God for food, water, and direction and to “love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength” (Deut. 6:5). The Lord went before them in a pillar of smoke by day and fire by night, yet unbelief plagued their hearts. When the Lord was making a covenant with Moses, they worshipped and sacrificed to idols. Yet when God sent to them an abundance of manna and quail daily, they wanted to depend on the blessings from the previous day to sustain them for the next instead of depending on the One who blesses.
Thankfully, we can learn from the mistakes of the Israelites. And their response to God often mirrors our own response to Him when we are in the desert. How many times do we grumble saying, “God, how much longer?” or “God, do you even care?” Complaint reveals a lack of trust in God. Other times we might stop caring and turn to idols to quench our thirst. We might even find ourselves retreating back to the old sins, old thoughts, and old life we lived before Christ entered our lives.
But what the people of Israel forgot was that they were a chosen people. That they were set apart from the rest of the world. Their ancestors had history with God. There was nothing that they did and could not do to separate the love of God from them. Whether they liked it or not, they were stuck with Him. And part of the covenant that God made with Moses was that He was going to make the Israelites His people and that He would be their God.
Unlike the Israelites who lost sight of the promise land and, more often, the Promise Keeper, there was One who, in the wilderness, obeyed, endured, and put His eyes on the joy set before him. Forty days and forty nights, Jesus Christ fasted and was tempted by the devil. He felt the pain of hunger that He never felt before and endured the humility of humanity.
During Jesus’s season in the wilderness, we see the same tactics that the devil used on the Israelites: disobey the Lord. Three times Jesus was tempted by the devil. Each time Jesus responded with the Word of God. He was not only redeeming the Israelites’ disobedience, but He was also erasing the sin that Adam and Eve committed in the garden. Not only can we look to Jesus as the perfect example of how to endure in the wilderness, but we also look to Him as the author and finisher of our faith. He is the One who will guide us, for He is the One who best knows how to persevere in the wilderness.
Take courage in this season.
The Lord is cultivating in you a dependence on Him and obedience that is necessary for the calling over your life. And it may be that the desert season is not just for yourself. Just like how Spongebob and Patrick’s joyfully-shed teardrops caused the sprinklers to go off, all of the animals in that room were brought back to life. How Joshua and Caleb fully followed the Lord in the desert and led a whole nation into the promise land. And Jesus, who until the end obeyed and fulfilled every single one of God’s good laws, became the Lamb of God that was slain so that sin and death would be no more, but that there would be life and life everlasting.
This may not be new information and you might have heard it before. But I fully believe that there is someone reading this that can be encouraged today! There is a purpose in the dryness, and there is a promise older than you that is being fulfilled through you.