Lessons only shadows can teach.
Start with desert.As life mantra’s go, you could do worse than “Start with desert”.
Now I’m up for maximising my cake and ice cream intake - one of my “fitness goals” is to have a cheat day as epic as The Rock - but I’m not talking about “dessert”. It wasn’t a typo. I really mean start with the desert.
There are things that civilised society can teach us. How to correctly eat sushi without eliciting an eye-roll from the Japanese chef. How to angle a selfie so that your face doesn’t look doughy. How to hail a taxi (pro tip - just use Uber!).
But if we’re looking for courage and character development, to discover our true selves and our calling, or to become intimate with the wild heart of God; we have to learn to walk the wilderness.
That’s why Jesus refuses to even begin His ministry before he braves the badlands.
He knows that they will forge in Him the kind of iron will that can endure, even embrace, the cross. And that it can’t be forged anywhere else.
Think about your own journey for a minute.
What have you ever really learned when your life has a been coasting along in the easy rhythm of eat, work, eat, work, eat, Netflix, sleep, repeat?
Comfy as those seasons are, I definitely don’t remember experiencing significant growth there.
But the times when I’ve been dragged off my sofa, kicking and screaming into the barren, dark places of my soul - those have been transformative.
The break ups.
The periods of unemployment.
The failures and disappointments.
Annoyingly it’s the discomfort of these kind things that is required to remake us.
There are lessons only shadows can teach.
And there’s all kinds of beauty out here if you learn to look for it. (The cacti that make all the coffee shops in Nashville resound with “Oh my gosh - that’s so AESTHETIC” came from somewhere).
I know we haven’t chosen this current wilderness we’ve been unwittingly bundled into by the kidnapper that is 2020. I thought I was going on a world tour. Now I just have a warehouse bursting full of t-shirts depicting that alternate reality! But if I had been strategising to have a year in which my soul and person were shaped and crafted after the image of God, I would have, with a broken heart, still rainchecked the tour if I’m honest.
Because if you want to make real changes, you know what you have to do.
Start with desert.