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The LORD will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail. Isaiah 58:11

During the ‘drought-times’ of our lives it is sometimes hard to sense God’s presence. Those times of dryness, when we desperately seek some relief from the stress of life. A little shade would be nice to shield us from the harsh sunlight of the struggle we face. Some refreshing rain, the soft gentle kind that slowly nourishes the soil of our soul would be welcome.

The prophet Isaiah promises us that our God is always there. He promises to satisfy our needs, not our wants. He promises us strength to endure those wilderness times. We are likened to a well watered garden, a garden that gets its refreshment from deep inside our soul as a hidden spring softens the soil in the midst of the hardened wilderness.

So why is it that during those wilderness times we lose sight of God’s guidance? What is it that keeps us from experiencing the refreshment of that inner spring? Why do we seem to wander for days seeking some sign of comfort only to find more stress, more hardness?

First of all we need to remember that Isaiah says the Lord God will guide us always. That’s a statement of faith. He is there always, even when we can’t sense His presence. But His guidance is our choice. He doesn’t force us to follow his way. He doesn’t demand our obedience, He asks for it. The freedom to choose comes with a responsibility to choose according to the things we learn from His word.

Secondly, His promise is to satisfy our needs, not our wants. If we are brutally honest with ourselves we must admit that we are driven by want. What are the things we NEED? The answers will vary from place to place, but in reality we need clothing, shelter and physical nourishment. That’s it. No cell phones on the list. No new cars or fancy homes. No Christmas tree with gifts piled high under the tree. No TV. No video games.

Will God provide those things? Sometimes, but not always. God’s desire is more for our commitment to Him and our desire to show others the way to His Kingdom than He is our comfort. Our place on earth is to show love and forgiveness more than it is to have a healthy retirement account.

Lastly, Isaiah tells us we will go through the sun-scorched wilderness of life. It doesn’t appear that wilderness wanderings are an option. We will not be immune from those places of shade-less, sun-hardened soil. We will be refreshed in the midst of them. The refreshment doesn’t come from the outside (rain, shade, cooler temperatures). The refreshment comes from within. Jesus says He is the living water, water that refreshes, that wells up from deep within. Water that soothes, heals, strengthens us to press on when the going gets tough.

PRAYER: Father God. Right now I’m in a wilderness of stress, anger, and frustration. I confess to you that all too often I’m driven by the God of want and not enjoying the refreshing spring of your provision. Empower me by your Spirit to focus on the things that are truly important such as healthy relationships with you and those around me. Help me to desire you more than anything else. In Jesus name, Amen.

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December 2010
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