Ever watched the show Man vs. Wild? It’s an ingenious reality show that attempts to show you how to survive in any number of hostile environments—from the Costa Rican rainforest to the Alaskan frontier to a wide array of desert locations.
The host is an aptly-named British gentleman, Bear Grylls, who parachutes into these remote locations, and spends a great deal of time running from, yes, bears, lions, and elephants. In fact, there is only one thing he spends more time doing—and that is looking for water.
In one episode (at this point any of you who have weak stomachs need to scroll past this paragraph), Bear was so desperate for hydration that he actually picked a large chunk of elephant dung, squeezed it and drank the juice he squeezed from it to allow him to proceed on his journey somewhere in Kenya. Ever been THAT thirsty? Probably not.
Though this is reality television, and reality is often the furthest thing you might see on the 186 channels of media in your home, that has to be most disgusting thing to have ever been seen in the reality genre.
Here is the point: Have you ever spent any time in the Christ-follower’s version of the desert, where you seem to hear nothing from God, where you yearn for His voice, His guidance, and you’re thirsting for anything from Him that might point you out of the desert?
If you’re enduring such a desert right now, consider these four tips:
1. When you suffer through silence, it puts you more closely in touch with Jesus.
When you study the life of Jesus, you realize He spent plenty of time in the literal and figurative desert. He was isolated on the cross by the consequences of our sin. He was isolated in the desert when he was tempted by Satan. And He was often isolated by the hatred of the very people He came to save. He was isolated by the lack of understanding of His disciples as He tried to prepare them for ministry.
We all need to understand (in some small way) what Jesus endured to give us forgiveness and life. Time in the desert gives us a tiny glimpse of what that suffering might’ve been like.
2. When you don’t hear God’s voice, it’s a good idea to go back to His Word to pick up the signal again—even if it takes a while to tune in.
Luke 4 recounts Jesus’ temptation in the wilderness, where He successfully fought off Satan’s advances toward Him by relying on the God’s Word. While we don’t know for sure, it seems that this time of testing was all about Jesus’ reliance and subsistence on Scripture. Don’t abandon the Bible when you need it most. Most of us don’t have all of the promises of God memorized so that we can recite them when we hit the desert. So, you must commit to open the Bible daily and meditate on its truth when you’re walking through the desert.
3. When you don’t hear from God, make sure you haven’t inserted your own ear plugs.
Consider this passage from the Book of Revelation:
I know your works, your labor, and your endurance, and that you cannot tolerate evil. You have tested those who call themselves apostles and are not, and you have found them to be liars. You also possess endurance and have tolerated [many things]* because of My name, and have not grown weary. But I have this against you: you have abandoned the love [you had]* at first. Remember then how far you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first. Otherwise, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place—unless you repent” (Revelation 2:2-5, HCSB).
There’s a great temptation to dwell on your activities and not on the subject of your activities—your first love, Jesus Christ our Lord. Sometimes, sin keeps you from hearing from God. Sometimes, focusing on the rat race of life instead of our Savior does the same thing. Either one can deafen you to God’s voice. Unplug your schedule and your stuff. Plug into your first love.
4. Walk through the desert with your friends.
Yes, your friends have troubles, and their time is precious. But if they’re real, genuine, serious Christ-followers, they’ll come to your aid when you call. So, call and let them encourage you, love you, and walk with you as you make your hike through the desert. You are going to make it.