Even though I wore denim pants, the sharp grains of sand bit through to my knees like so many small razors, so that the intense heat of the desert floor was able to freely burn my skin in a hundred tiny sparks. I crawled with my toes lifted off the sand as best I could, because the heat was so intense in the midafternoon they burned with only a momentary touch. My calves cramped almost hourly, forcing me to stretch and then I touched the desert – inflicting another burn atop a previous wound. My hands were not so lucky, yet in a way they were fortunate. One hand was always in contact with the sand, so they burned red; but it didn’t take long for my palms to callus and scar, so I couldn’t feel the destruction happening, I just knew that it was.
I crawled through the dust and heat, occasionally bumping into a larger stone; the blinding light of the day kept me from seeing hazards until it was too late. Yet, I continued to crawl, in an unceasing search for a trail, or path; anything that might lead me through this desert and to the other side. My neck was burned, and its muscles throbbed from trying to hold my head up. I could have walked if I had shoes, but I had none and I couldn’t remember where they might be. I sat for a moment to rest, balancing with my feet and hands off the sand; the position resembled an exercise my wife used to perform. Before long my stomach could no longer hold me and I placed a foot and hand to the desert floor, that’s when I felt it, a sharp sting on a finger. I looked to see a scorpion scurrying away; I had been bitten. A new pain began to seize my hand. Could it ever be any worse than this?
We call the times in our lives when everything seems to go wrong a season, or our time in the desert, or a stretch of bad luck. Call it what you may, we have all been in the position where if it could go wrong it did, and at the worst possible moment. Bad times can be hammering our spouse, our children, and our friends; sometimes we feel we are in a massive fog of dread that engulfs everyone and everything we care for, and it seems nothing that we try can change what is, into what we want it to be. Sometimes our attempt to escape only makes the desert larger and the trail leading out smaller.
I’ve tried almost everything to survive a down season. Anger and resentment always surface as a first choice. Drinking alcohol to escape the desert heat, or to at least forget where I am is another common approach, as is blaming someone else for all of my problems. Then again, forcing a smile on my face and pretending that I wasn’t bitten by a scorpion is an old favorite. We all have our own coping mechanisms that we use to survive the storm, but I have only found one method, one course of action that works for me: patience and prayer. The desert, from time to time, will find each of us, and when we are in it we must continually fight to find a way out, even if crawling is all we can muster. Getting out alone though, is very difficult; we need help. Our friends and family can help, but only God knows the shortest route back home. So I ask Him for help, I keep crawling, and I wait; because God answers when he chooses, not when we think our time in the heat is up. I do not believe the creator of the universe put me on this planet to kick me when I am down; I believe just the opposite.
I must have passed out after the scorpion bite, because when I woke the sun was far on the horizon, but more had changed than just the movement of the sun. It was cooler, and there was a mist of rain in the air. The ground around me was wet, and there were small puddles where yesterday only hot sand rested. I lay back down and the sand acted as a soft, cool pillow welcoming my rest. A hand tapped my shoulder to awaken me. He gave me shoes to wear, water to drink and food to nourish me. Handing me a backpack with more supplies, and a compass, he walked way. A path was growing in the desert with each step he took. After a few steps He turned, reached His hand toward me and said, “Come, follow me.” So, I did.
Thanks for reading.