Saturday, November 28, 2009


In Isreal we hiked through the desert a lot. Hours and days were spent experiencing the heat, the rocks, the sun. It takes incredible effort just to BE in the desert, so imagine hiking and climbing throughout it as well.

It was hard. Really hard.

Being one who walked those miles, I can say by personal experience that deserts, at least the ones that the Bible refers to, are powerful. They sap your strength. Deserts stretch and challenge and require all your energy. Deserts not only weaken the body, but also the mind.

And Deserts are long. They stretch for miles and miles without any sight of green. Deserts are vast.

I say this because one of the most powerful lessons I learned while in Israel was this: That God very purposely leads us into deserts, and that the deserts we face are some of the most important experiences of our faith. They hold incredible purpose.

And what is that purpose, you ask? To strengthen us. To push us. To prepare us. To make us weak in order to remember that God is strong. To remind us. To make us like our Rabbi.

And to teach us further, deeper, better, that God is the God who provides and loves and leads and meets us when we feel dry, used up, alone. When we feel as though we can't go on and the rocky path ahead seems too long, it's in those moments that God reveals Himself. It's in those moments when we gain the most understanding.

Understanding has to be earned. It has to be fought for. It has to require of us.

So God leads us into the desert.

Because He wants us to be strong. And more importantly, He wants us to know Him. He wants us to see what He's made of (and also to see what we're made of).

In the desert, God shows us not only who He is, and not only who we are, but who we CAN be.

Yes, the desert is strong. Yes the desert is important. Yes, the desert is good. But the desert is not where the story ends. As is always the case with God, the real story ends with love.

Powerful, life-giving love.

Because the biggest reason God leads us into the desert is so that we get to experience the depths of His incredible, healing love. Only when we have nothing left can we truly know the power and the glory and the intimacy of the love of God.

And so, in the midst of my own personal desert, God speaks these words into my heart:

"Therefore I am now going to allure her; I will lead her into the desert and speak tenderly to her." - Hosea 2:14

The desert is strong.

But His tender voice speaks within it.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Living Water

Thinking of my little brother David today, far away in Afghanistan. Sometimes I get so afraid for him, away from home and family and so near danger and things that threaten; spiritually, mentally, physically.
But today God reminded me that He is living water, that He is near David amidst the desert of this war, and that all is in His hands.

He holds the power to rescue, love, save, refresh, build up, protect.

And today, I know that He offers that to David in the way that he needs it, because God is who He says He is.

I rest in that.

"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

Saturday, November 21, 2009

The Very Words of God.

"Jews read the Bible the way a person reads a love letter. When you read a love letter, you don't just read it for content. You try and squeeze every last little bit of meaning out of it, e.g., Why did he sign it 'Yours' instead of 'Love'?" - Harold Kushner

I am trying to memorize the book of John. The whole thing. I got the idea driving home from the airport, fresh off my trip from Israel, and in the begginning, the excitement from that place spurred me on...

those first few days.

It has now been 3 months since coming home, and I have learned 21 verses from chapter 1.

21 verses.

In 3 months.


In Israel, we learned that Jesus, being a Rabbi, would have had the entire Torah (Gen-Deut.) memorized, along with most of the rest of the Hebrew Scriptures. All of them...

So what's my problem?

My problem is that I do not eat, sleep, and breathe the Word of God like my Rabbi did. My problem is that I started memorizing, studying, caring, much later than I could have. My problem is T.V. and friends and Dr. Mario and really good books. My problem is long long runs and writing letters.

My problem is a lot of really good things working as distractions against the most important thing.

Because no matter what I do with my life, if it isn't rooted, established, and grounded on the Word of God, then something's wrong.

Then I'm not being like my Rabbi.

And I want to be like Him.

So today, AGAIN, I remind myself what the begginning, middle, and end of my days should look like:

"These commandments I give you are to be upon your hearts...Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up." - Deut. 6.

I remind myself that this Book, these words, are not work, but love, and that the Rabbi I follow, the one I desire to be like in every way, loved it well and wholeheartedly.

And so, again, today, I try to do the same.

"Turn it (the Torah) over and over again, for one can find everything in it." Ethics of the Fathers 5:22.