I have never been one who found beauty in the desert. Dry places appeared empty, void of color, void of life.
One day I found myself traveling with my husband on a desert road outside of the city of Dubai. The road started as a busy, paved highway in a populated place and gradually became a narrow, sandy path headed to a dusty desert place with no other people in sight. For a very long time the view did not change as we drove mile after mile on a lifeless, dry road. I could not help but wonder what was at the end of this road, and why my husband would bring me to this place.
As I pondered these questions, on the horizon I saw a sign of life. A beautiful, large oryx was walking through the sand as the sun beat down on his body. As large as he was, he was difficult to spot at first because his color was similar to the sand. He and the landscape around him almost appeared to be one. This tall creature with sharp, straight, striking horns was alone. In a strange way, my heart went out to him as it appeared that he must be lost, alone in his wandering.
After quite a drive down what seemed to be a forgotten road, we arrived at our destination. Before me was desert escape lined with ornate tents that boasted air conditioning, plush beds and room service for an adventure unlike any other.
Early the next morning as we sat at a table drinking coffee and enjoying Arabic breakfast delicacies, my eye caught a glimmer on the horizon. Shining in the sun was a small man-made pool of water and desert trees around it purposed to provide a small amount of shade.
At this pool, one by one, they came into view. Oryx were lined up, heads bowed down as they lapped up the water in front of them, huddled under the shade of a desert tree. They came together at this place of refreshing. As they finished their drink, each one walked in reverse out of the pack and made their way back toward the dunes alone.
An oasis, a place of refreshing, had been provided in the middle of a hot, dry desert place. They drank in the water receiving exactly what they needed to sustain life until many days later when they would come to the oasis again.
I was amazed by what I saw. I picked up my phone and did a quick google search to find that oryx are created for this. God put within them a system that can survive far longer than other species with just one drink, storing water in their bodies in a way that allows them to not only survive, but to thrive in a desert place.
Other animals cannot be sustained for quite as long as the oryx because the others were not created in this very unique way, but the oryx was created to take this live giving water away and thrive.
Matthew 11 is a familiar passage. Jesus was speaking to a large group of people as He traveled from city to city inviting everyone to come to the Father in order to expand the Kingdom. With a loud voice He cried out to the Father thanking Him that He chose to grow His Kingdom through the hearts of the humble who trust with childlike faith.
After this prayer, Jesus turned to address the masses, those with fears, hurts, and questions, and gave an invitation to everyone present. He lovingly and compassionately spoke these words,
“Are you weary, carrying a heavy burden? Then come to me. I will refresh your life, for I am your oasis.” (Matthew 11:28 TPT)
Jesus told the crowd that if they were weary, if they were carrying a burden, no matter what desert they may be walking through, He would be their oasis. He would be their place of refreshing. He had exactly what they needed to not only survive, but to thrive.
Many of us are weary, many of us carry a heavy burden. Many are in a desert place and each desert may look a little bit different. These desert places leave us wandering. They leave us searching. They leave us thirsty. Perhaps one of these desert places sounds familiar to you today.
The desert of fear
Jesus promised in Matthew 16:33 that we will have trouble and we are seeing trouble all around us today. From viruses to political division to our own personal struggles within the four walls of our home, we are tempted to fall into a state of panic, a state of fear.
We attempt to do everything we know how to do, operating out of fear, reacting rather than responding, spinning our wheels, expending all of our mental and emotional energy until we find ourselves far from the source, far from our oasis. It is easy in times of uncertainty to use the resources that we have available to us rather than run to our oasis.
Fear has no place in the life of a believer. It is one of the greatest tactics the enemy has against us paralyzing us until we are unable to move forward. We are called to walk in faith, not in fear.
If only we would spend time drinking the life giving water of our Oasis. We would realize that while yes, we will have trouble, Jesus has already overcome the world! We are to leave our fear at our Oasis.
The desert of distress
The definition of distress is extreme sorrow or pain, a place of suffering of body or mind. Our hearts may be broken, our bodies may be in pain. A loved one may be walking a very difficult road which in turn has brought us pain watching their journey. You may be in a place where it seems that no life is found, as joy has no longer been a part of your daily experience.
The definition of oasis is ‘a fertile place’, a life giving place. When we are in the places of our deepest distress, there is new, rich, full, joyful life waiting for us at our Oasis.
Let your sorrow lead you to Him. You can find your consolation, your solace at your Oasis.
The desert of loneliness
Like the oryx, we can find ourselves in times where we feel isolated, alone. We begin to feel closed in, and the more these emotions hit our souls, the further away we stay from those around us who would want to help. Isolation often breeds greater isolation as we pull further and further away.
If only we would come to our Oasis because coming to our Oasis brings us closer to other thirsty souls who have found they cannot do this life on their own. Side by side we drink deeply of the life giving water He has poured out in a place shaded by His mercy and grace. We find ourselves refreshed personally and as a group and recognize that we are not alone in our wandering!
One of the lies the enemy loves to tell us is that we are alone and it will never change, but the enemy is a liar! Just one visit to the Oasis shows us that we are very much a community of hurting people loved by the Savior! Spending time at our Oasis reveals the truth about who we are and brings us into community.
God has provided an oasis!
We don’t have to go about looking for an oasis to quench our thirst, to still our need. Like in the Arabian desert, an oasis has already been provided. For those who fear, the One Who is your Oasis is also your peace. For those who are in distress, your Oasis is your calm. For those who are wandering alone, your Oasis is always present, right by your side, leading you to a place of love and favor as you rest in His shade and drink from His well spring of life.
Regardless of what desert we are walking right now, there is only one Oasis. Without this Oasis, we will lack the life giving water to make it through the desert in which we have found ourselves.
Like the oryx was created in such a way to sustain life by utilizing water in a dry desert place, we were created for our Oasis. No matter the crazy in our lives, in our country, around the globe, coming to the oasis of Jesus Christ will bring a refreshing that nothing else can offer.
This living water found at our oasis will sustain us, guide us, comfort us, it will be our peace. When life seems dry or circumstances around us are swirling and we are not sure what to believe, how to respond or where to go with our anxious thoughts and broken hearts, we can come to the oasis, be refreshed and find a drink of new life.
Deserts may look dry, colorless and void of life, but perhaps there is untold beauty and life we have never experienced in our desert places. We can survive our times of confusion, distress, loneliness and even our times of fear in this troubled world.
True beauty is found in the desert when He is our oasis.
“Hot sands will become a cool oasis, thirsty ground a splashing fountain. Even lowly jackals will have water to drink, and barren grasslands flourish richly.” Isaiah 35:7