The best vacation we’ve ever taken was to Scottsdale, Arizona. We were living in Maine at the time and had just come through a long, dark, windy, snowy, frigid winter, and we needed a thaw. We were completely emotionally and physically spent and we were in desperate need of refreshment and renewal. When we first started planning that vacation I was looking forward to beaches, and blue water, tropical drinks, and lush gardens. I wanted someplace warm, but not scorching. I wanted to be surrounded by an oasis of greenery, and sit under the shade of a sunbrella next to a sparkling pool. When Sam first suggested Arizona, I will admit, I didn’t immediately conjure up images of refreshment and relaxation; rather stories my Mom had told me of days reaching 120 degree temperatures…in the shade. I remembered news stories of tourists dying of heat stroke and dehydration because they forgot to drink enough fluids and stay out of the mid-day sun. A plethora of rattlesnakes, scorpions, tarantulas, and other creepy-crawlers also wriggled through my mind. Quite frankly, the thought of a week’s worth of dry, dusty, parched desert as far as the eye could see didn’t really strike me as the kind of vacation that would create relaxation….
All I can say now is, Arizona is a must see place! The desert holds a truly magical beauty I’d never before seen on any of our travels. It was a wild and thorny beauty that pricked my conscious as I gazed across the landscape of cacti and yucca. The red and bronze rock formations cut through the horizon in majestic plateaus and canyons; rising and falling in a grand opus of colors and textures. The sky was the bluest blue I’ve ever seen, and the air was crisp and clean and unspoiled by smog and pollution. Sunrises and sunsets were wildly streaked with every shade of pink and orange and purple imaginable. The night sky twinkled in perfect choreography over head with a multitude of dazzling stars. Morning dew clung to every available surface, glistening in the first rays of sunlight as diamonds in a jeweler’s case. And when it rained everything changed color – from dusty reds and browns to lush greens, yellows, purples, reds, pinks, blues, and oranges. What I found in the desert was not what I expected to find; but instead I found life – life more abundant than I could have ever imagined.
Are you in the desert right now? Perhaps not physically, but instead emotionally, mentally, and/or spiritually? If you are, don’t feel alone. We all have those times in our life. Times when life is just plain difficult. Our circumstances all seem to be going haywire, and the more we try to control things the more out of control we feel. We’re frazzled on the inside as well as on the outside. We’re stuck in a dead-end job that we loathe. Our kids can’t do anything right. Our spouse is downright unattractive and un-lovable. The house is falling apart. The cars are breaking down. Your entire commute is full of road construction and detours. Your neighbors are on your last nerve. You’re personal devotional times are non-existent because you just don’t have the time or energy to get to them. You feel washed up and spiritually parched even after sitting through another Sunday morning worship service. You feel like your prayers are simply bouncing off the ceiling unheard and unacknowledged. And you keep telling yourself “This too shall pass,” but you’re having a very difficult time believing it. In short, you’re just stressed out, under-appreciated, over-worked, and in dire need of a six month vacation that involves cabana boys, fruity drinks, sandy beaches, and palm trees.
However, instead of running off to some tropical paradise and forgetting about the cares of life, I challenge you instead to find the beauty in your desert. Look beyond your current circumstances, and see the diamonds in the sunrise. Search for the flowers amidst the cacti. Discover the fingers of God which are being woven into the tapestry of your life. Don’t get lost in the dry days, but take refreshment in the quiet of the morning. Enjoy the majesty of God in the sunset. Embrace HIS presence in the twinkling darkness. And keep and eye out for the rain…when that storm hits it’s gonna be a blessed soaker!