Last week I had the privilege of driving through some West Texas desert.  (I digress here, but it dawns on me that driving is a privilege.  Owning a car, possessing a driver’s license, the stamina to drive for many hours are all sweet privileges. This has nothing to do with the desert but a revelation I had none the less.)  Looking at the desert from my rear view mirror, I realized it’s beauty.  However, when I was up close and personal with it — dirt in my face, skin dried out, tumbleweeds in my path, desolation all around — the beauty was much more difficult to grasp.

     by Johnathan Gooch

     by Johnathan Gooch

You don't have to be driving through a geographical desert to sense desolation all around you.  In the desert, we feel we’ll never get out.  Purposefully pushing through the desert, despair gets replaced with endurance.   Endurance comes as a result of a trip through the empty, desolate places.

No matter which way you turn in the desert it looks the same — dirt, tumbleweeds, cactus.  It seems that there is no way to differentiate which way to go.  Confusion and hopelessness start to settle in. Because we can’t be sure what’s ahead of us, we often turn back to where we’ve been. As we keep moving forward, confusion gives way to new, unexpected direction — a fresh perspective.

If you are like me, your favorite pastime in the desert is to look at people who aren’t in the desert.  They are not covered with dirt.  Their skin is moist.  They don’t appear to be confused or desperate or thirsty.  Comparison has never moved anyone out of the desert (or any other place for that matter), only held them there a little longer.  On the back side of the desert, comparison gets replaced with new empathy.   

Whatever desert you find yourself in, I want to remind you that the desert is not a place to survive but a place to be refined.  Allow the process to cultivate something new in you.  Oh, the view of the desert in the rear view mirror is truly stunning!