I have traveled through the barren wilderness of the Sinai Desert a number of times. The first time was on a non-air-conditioned bus. It was a long, arid and suffocating trip that I only endured. While traveling along the bumpy road, I did not even look out the window. What was there to see in the desert?” I thought. With fixed heart, I kept my eyes focused on the reward of the trip—snorkeling. Ras Mohammed, located on the tip of the Sinai Peninsula off the Gulf of Aqaba, was my destination. It was the second largest coral reef in the world.
Before arriving at Ras Mohammed, I spent one night sleeping under the stars along the Red Sea. The night desert air was cool. It made for great sleeping. The next morning I awoke early and took a walk to explore the barren wilderness.
Much to my surprise, it was full of subtle beauty. The desert colors were not just brown and tan, but rather muted tones of purple, mauve and gold. There was unusual life in the desert. Ragged trees and a few majestic mountains jutted out against the stark and cloudless sky. Occasionally a lizard darted out from behind a rock. A few snooty-faced camels stood clustered in small groups. Black Bedouin tents could be seen upon the horizon and the mysterious and illusive figures of the nomads as they began their daily routines. The sand was so fine and luxurious that my bare feet felt pampered and tickled as I walked. I found myself drawn to the magnetic heat and hidden beauty of the desert. To this day I love the desert.
Once while reading Hosea 2:14, I remembered my first trip to the Sinai. The verse spoke to me of Jesus alluring His bride into the desert place and speaking kindly to her there. It spoke of the hope He wants to give her about a new and more fruitful day. I recalled that I only endured that first trip to the desert and later saw the hidden beauty. So it can be with each believer’s wilderness experience. It can become a sweet and tender place if each has eyes to see and heart to embrace.
I would not want to live in the desert all of my life, but I can embrace its subtle beauty and unique life while I am there. In the wilderness God will speak hope and comfort to my heart. He will sustain my life through the dry place. Fixing my eyes on the reward of the desert helps me endure. Jesus is the Reward of the desert. The Song of Solomon 8:5 says it best:
“Who is this coming up from the wilderness, leaning upon her beloved?”
I hope to be changed in the wilderness. I hope to return from the wilderness leaning heavily on my Beloved.
About the author…
Not Jewish herself, Bonnie Wilks has a love for Jewish people and Jewish evangelism. Bonnie lived on a kibbutz in Israel for more than two years. She and her husband and their three-year-old daughter live in Grand Prairie, Texas, where her husband is presiding pastor of Shady Grove Church. Bonnie is actively involved in missions at her church and is currently leading a weekly prayer group for Israel.