Learn how to rejoice when living in a parched land. http://wp.me/p7W1vk-dW

The desert and the parched land will be glad;
the wilderness will rejoice and blossom.
Isaiah 35:1

Lessons from the Dry Land

We moved from Bozeman, MT to Holbrook, AZ almost five years ago. I confess I still miss the snowstorms, the months of cold weather, and the luscious flowers in the spring and summer. Maybe the native Montanans call it God’s country because they, like I, always feel a little closer to God in the wide-open spaces and majestic views.Unfortunately, life can't conist of only mountaintop experiences. Here's what I've discovered about living in parched places. http://wp.me/p7W1vk-dW

In Bozeman, Pedro and I could load up our bikes and within twenty minutes find our favorite trailhead. After huffing and puffing up the mountainside, we would arrive at fields of wildflowers framed by snow-capped mountains on either side.

Ninety minutes in the car brought us to the gates of Yellowstone National Park. This time of year baby bison linger in the roads on cool mornings and grizzlies scratch their backs on trees just yards from the road.

The other evening I went out looking for birds (the most available wild creatures in my new neighborhood). The wind had picked up, and red dust danced around the open spaces between clumps of grass. Not the best weather for finding birds, but I needed the steps, according to my Fit Bit.

Just as I suspected, I couldn’t find many birds. I meandered around, checking all of the usual places, but only saw a few of the usual suspects instead of migrating marvels.

And then I noticed the flowers. Scrawny stems with spindly leaves holding up minute marvels. The quotidian landscape transformed into a wonderland of beauty when I took the time to notice the little bits of beauty at my feet.

Our last rainstorm occurred over a week ago, sometime during the dark hours of night. It had rained long enough to bring fresh blossoms out of the parched earth, though.

Parched Places Produce Beauty

parched

Desert flowers amaze me in so many ways. Their delicate blossoms defy the harsh environment of the high desert. Cold nights, strong winds, and hot days leave the flowers looking worn after just a day or two. Nevertheless, they persist.

My life as a believer reminds me of the contrasts of living in the foothills and living in the desert. While I long for mountaintop experiences where the lush landscape and abundant wildlife give me a foretaste of heaven, I live in the desert.

At times, my spiritual life seems as parched as the land around me. I long for soft hillsides of green where I can imagine Jesus and I ambling along marveling at the beauty together.

I don’t like the parched feeling of chastisement, or perseverance, or doing what I know I should but just don’t feel like doing. Quotidian walks along the desert trails (or should I say, ‘trials’—it’s all about where one places the ‘I’), make me long for an oasis of peace.

The older I get, the more I understand that I can find joy and beauty in overcoming those quotidian things that chafe my soul. When I confess that I needed chastisement. If I keep on doing what I know I should, even if I don’t like to. When I give up something that I know I don’t need, but only want—those choices act like tiny blossoms in my time of dessert travel.

I don’t see fields of flowers or fireworks. I do experience tiny bursts of joy—hard won, and maybe fleeting—that remind me of flowers in the parched land.

What lifts your spirits when you’re traveling through a parched land?

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8 Comments

  1. Dear Anita, I think you demonstrate the most important key to finding something to rejoice about in the parched places, you look for it: you went walking with your camera. Sometimes, in those harsh places, it seems impossible to take off the camera lens, but God beckons us to do so anyway. Lately, I ‘ve been reading more and more about “being present”. When I focus on the moment, acknowledging its fleetness, life is so much better. Thank you for this beautiful reminder, and your gorgeous pics!

  2. Anita, I so get your longing for trees and mountains and flowers and green and the contrast of the desert of Arizona. I remember visiting there the first time as a teen and thinking it was so ugly and harsh. I have been back about five times since then and realized that there is a harsh beauty about it and variety that is not found elsewhere. But the landscape always shocks my eyes for a while.

  3. I love the example of desert flowers blooming- so much beauty being grown in such harsh conditions. It’s a great illustration of how God can bring beauty out of our difficult “desert” times. It always helps me to look back and remember where I’ve seen him do that in the past when I struggle to see it in the present situation.
    Lesley recently posted…May ReflectionsMy Profile

  4. When I’m walking through parched land, I look for even the smallest sign of God at work – a flower on a plant that rarely blooms, just the right song on the radio, an unexpected email/text from a friend, etc.

  5. During the winter here I long for the desert and your warm weather. It’s amazing that just in a few hours via plane we can go to such diverse regions. God’s creation is marvelous.
    When I’m in those parched seasons, I spend more time in His word and cling to Him harder.
    Lovely pictures!
    Julie recently posted…The Best Ways to Live your Christian Life WellMy Profile

  6. This is well written. ..I love the comparison of the desert place and what our soul needs which is the mountain.
    I recently wrote about going to the mountain to escape…with regards to Lot’s situation. The mountain is where we need to be..spiritually I mean.
    Thank you for this powerful devotional. I missed it last week.
    God bless
    Ifeoma Samuel recently posted…How To Guard Your Momma HeartMy Profile

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Anita Ojeda

Anita Ojeda juggles writing with teaching high school English and history. When she's not lurking in odd places looking for rare birds, you can find her camping with her kids, adventuring with her husband or mountain biking with her students.

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