I’m not sure exactly what it is that makes it so, but for some – for me – college life proves to be a desert-like experience. Perhaps it is entering a new place that is not your home for an extended period of time, or perhaps it is the experiences you endure while going through college that make it feel like something of a desert. Maybe it is the constant pressure of people asking you questions like “So what are you going to do after college?” to which your response in your head is “How am I supposed to know? I don’t even know what I’m going to do while I’m in college.” Maybe you’re juggling your major – really enjoying classes in some area of study, but equally enjoying classes in a different area. Whatever it is, college can begin to feel like a desert.
I have definitely experienced this myself during my time at Trinity. I remember setting foot on Trinity’s campus with the sheer confidence that only comes from being a college freshman. I had bright dreams and goals and thought I knew my exact plan for how my four years at college would go. Little did I know, God had other plans. Freshman year brought forth confusing and difficult times in my life, however, it also brought some of the closest friends I’ve ever had. We walked beside each other through our difficulties as we stumbled through the deserts we had been brought into. In my sophomore year, and presently, in my junior year, I continue to experience the lost feelings that come from being in a desert. I am one of those juniors who still has little clue as to what he plans on doing after college. I am one of those Christians who feel like they are currently in a place of spiritual estrangement: a desert of doubt if you will.
Why? The question we always find ourselves asking, but never seem to find an answer to. Yet, perhaps there is an answer this time. Take a look at biblical characters who found themselves in deserts (really it was all of them). Moses. Moses was in the wilderness for 40 years before God spoke to him from a burning bush and told him to go set His people free from Egypt. Would Moses have been prepared to lead God’s people had he been the rash man who killed the Egyptian slave driver? David. God brought David into the desert of fear and doubt when Saul was in hot pursuit to kill him. Why? God using the dryness of the desert to grow David’s faithfulness and trust in Him, so that when David would later become king, he would rely on God in times of trouble. Jesus. Yes, even Jesus found Himself in a desert; in fact, it was the Holy Spirit who led Him in. Why? Christ fasted and was tempted in the desert just before He made His way to Calvary where He endured the most pain imaginable for our sin. God was preparing His Son for what was to come.
There may be other reasons for why we experience the deserts we do. For instance, a desert of spiritual estrangement may be the result of binding sin that we refuse to let go of. Regardless, in any desert situation, God is always trying to teach us something and prepare our hearts for the ways in which He plans to use us. So the next time you find yourself in a desert, consider asking not, “Lord, bring quickly to the land of milk and honey”; but rather, “Lord, use this time in the desert to prepare me for what is to come, so that I may best enjoy the Promised Land You have set before me.”
Don’t forget that the Honor’s excursion I am leading will take place on April 26 at the Indiana dunes, and we will be reflecting deeper on this subject of deserts in our lives. We will also be discussing the importance of fasting as a spiritual discipline for strengthening our reliance on God. Dr. Mattson has also graciously offered house up for dinner afterwards as well, so we will be concluding the excursion with a wonderful meal at the Mattson household. Let me know if you plan on coming soon, so that I can get a number for who’s all planning on coming!