Two months ago, Jason and I traveled sans kids to a neighboring country for some meetings. In the midst of the busy-ness, we were able to get away as a group to the beautiful countryside for a "walk in the wadi". Wadi is in Arabic word that roughly translated means riverbed or valley. The bookends for our walk as a group (what we discussed before and after as well as what we focused on as we walked) were the verses from Deuteronomy 8- the entire chapter. It was truly the perfect backdrop for the perfect day. Like I said, I'm sure I can't adequately capture our experience, but I wanted to give you a glimpse of our walk as well as the lessons learned as we took in the beautiful scenery.
We began by driving about three hours out of the city out into the dessert. We were all prepared for a 5-6 mile hike through the dessert that would be taking up most of the next day. We arrived at a Bedouin camp in the dessert right at sunset where we would be spending the night and beginning our hike the next morning.
Here are the tents that we spent the night in. At least for the night we had "bathroom facilities" (notice the concrete building towards the back)
For those of you who have never spent the night in a Bedouin tent, let me tell you it was COLD!! Even though it was close to 85 degrees or so during the day, once that sun went behind the hills, it got pretty chilly. We slept on foam mattresses on the ground in our burlap tents. Sadly, I forgot to take a picture of the inside.
Early the next morning we loaded in 4 wheel drive vehicles and went about 30 minutes farther away to the point where we would begin our walk. Here we are overlooking the dessert lands we were about to hike into. It was ruggedly beautiful yet even from this view, we were clueless as to the beauty we would be seeing throughout the rest of our hike.
We walked for 30 minutes to an hour through the rocky dessert. Here is our first view of the wadi we were descending into. There is a small stream that you can barely see, but you know it's there due to the beautiful flowers and bushes thriving around it.
So you don't think we were a group of clueless Americans making our way through the wilderness, not to worry, we had a very patient Bedouin guide who forged the trail for us. Here he is climbing over rocks, making his way along the stream picking out the best route for us to take. We followed this small stream throughout most of the rest of the day. In places it disappeared completely only to reappear a few minutes later. In places it widened to where we had to work not to get our feet wet, but it was constantly there.
Here we are making our way into the beginning of the wade and enjoying the vegetation that we are suddenly surrounded by.
The pink oleander was so beautiful.
As we walked on, our surrounding became more canyon like.
Someone from our group, got brave and climbed up to take an aerial shot of us. Yes, that is some of us walking through the canyon.
The scenery as the rock walls got closer and closer together was absolutely breathtaking. Notice the patterns on the rock. At any point we could look up and see flowers, even trees occasionally sprouting out of the rocks high above. I'm just gonna be quiet now and let God show off a little. Enjoy the show...
(below I wanted to give you an idea of how high the canyon walls were...)
At the end of the day, it was so amazing to be able to reflect on Deuteronomy 8 and the promised land God led His people into. This was our view as we sat under a tree at the end of the day waiting for the bus to come and pick us up. The green color of the hills is due to the copper that has been mined for centuries out of these very hills. Amazing. Thanks Lord, for the view of your majesty and the way you fulfill your promises.
Deuteronomy 8 :7-9 "For 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."
So I can't just leave it at that! I want you to also experience some of the rich discussions we had along the way and some of the lessons God taught us as we walked and considered His word.
First, we were expected a hike through the desert- barren brown hills and rocky crags. We didn't expect the rugged beauty that we ended up surrounded by. In our lives today, God wants to surprise us with His beauty- with a harvest of souls. What are our expectations for His work in our lives? Are we ready to be amazed by what He will do and are we expecting to see His beauty and His glory? Barren places can bear beautiful fruit! Are we ready for the harvest that can come from some of the most barren places in the world??
On that note, often we cannot see the beauty of a place when we are looking in from the outside. Just like when we first began our walk, we could only see the brown hills, none of the beauty within was beautiful. God is already working in some of the most barren places and His beauty is taking root. Pray for those streams in the dessert, those flowers in the wilderness- people who are blooming for Jesus in some of the darkest places of the world.
Finally, our walk in God's wilderness took much concentration. A slight misstep could send you sliding down a rock or splashing into the stream. When God takes us into the wilderness in our lives, often it is to fine tune our concentration and awareness of who He is and what he wants to do. When Jesus was tempted in the desert, he quoted Deuteronomy 8:3 a passage we are all familiar with saying that man does not live on bread alone. In studying this passage of Scripture as we took our walk, God showed me this verse in a new light. It says, "He humbled you, causing you to hunger and then feeding you with manna, which neither you nor your fathers had known, to teach you that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord." God's method of teaching the people that man does not live on bread alone but on God's word, was by providing for their needs in a completely unique and unexpected way. Praise Him that He is always ready to teach us something new and defy our expectations!