Our goal at by design ministries is to encourage you and to strengthen your trust in the Lord during these uncertain and unprecedented times. Over the next few weeks we will be reprising articles from our archive that we hope will inspire you and lead you to look to the one who has our times in His hands. This article was originally published in 2008.
by Dr. Alison Littauer
Remember how the LORD your God led you all the way in the desert these forty years, to humble you and to test you in order to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep his commands. For (after this) the LORD your God is bringing you into a good land — a land with streams and pools of water, with springs flowing in the valleys and hills; a land with wheat and barley, vines and fig trees, pomegranates, olive oil and honey; a land where bread will not be scarce and you will lack nothing; a land where the rocks are iron and you can dig copper out of the hills.
I lived and studied in Israel during my last year of college, and there is one visual that comes to mind to this very day, 40-plus years later, when I think of the Holy Lands, it’s the view when coming over the slight rise from Megiddo from which you look down to the Jezreel Valley. I lived in Israel from June to August, and there was never even one cloudy day — not one. Waves of heat pulsated from the floor of the steaming desert. But when you drove over the rise to the Jezreel plain, such a feast of color greeted your eyes! Purple grapes, undulating blue-green fields of crops, shimmering groves of cultivated olive trees. “Fruit in the desert.”
This image has stayed with me all these years, and in the recent past, has come to have new meaning, because this is the promise of God to us as believers — just as He promised those travel-weary Israelites on the eve of their occupying (at last!) the Promised Land. He promises fruit in spite of our external circumstances — when there is no “moisture,” as it were — when heavy hot “sirocco” winds blow across and buffet us. No matter what the desert, His promise remains.
Note also the four things He asks for in the desert — they are very specific! God says through Moses, I led you (into) the desert (interesting sidebar we could follow!): 1. To humble you, 2. To test you, 3. To see what was in your heart, 4. And whether you would obey. For the last two years of my life, this four-fold list has been taped to my makeup mirror (so that it is ever before me!). In other words, “what are you learning from this desert, Alison? What does God mean to uncover in you?” I once heard the noted and godly Dr. John Stott reflect on this principle of “response in the desert” in this way: “The Lord purposes to lead us into the desert, and then lead us out again. He doesn’t intend that any generation die in the desert … and only one generation did! The generation of unbelief.” (see Hebrews 3:7-19) BELIEVE GOD in the desert places for the fruit He can produce.
A final note of encouragement. What is the outcome of faithfully dealing with what is exposed during our desert journeys? Note verse 9: “I will give you overflowing abundance,” and you will be “able to dig treasure out of the rocky places.” (AMP) This is what Beth Moore refers to as the “spoils of war.” We must leave our ditches and deserts and detours with the ability to see God’s treasure even in the rocky places — new character, trust, hope, perseverance, inner tranquility — in short, becoming increasingly “conformed to the image of Christ.”
Dr. Alison Littauer was a speaker for Vision New England for over ten years, and now lives in Charlotte, NC, where she moved to finish her DMIN in Church History at Gordon Conwell Seminary, Charlotte. She is a graduate of both Wheaton College and New York University. After several years of working at Gordon-Conwell, Charlotte, she now teaches one intensive a year as an adjunct at the Ukraine Baptist Seminary, Lviv, Ukraine. She has 3 grown kids and 2 grandsons. Her passion is teaching far and wide about the impact of the “Great Dead Guys” & Women! of church history. To contact her about speaking availability, write Deadguys83@aol.com.