Wells in the Desert
“Blessed is the man whose strength is in thee; in whose heart are the highways; who passing through the valley of Baca, make it a well.”—Psalm 84:5-6
The desert usually lacks but one thing to make it a garden. In southern climes it has light, heat and often very fertile soil. Water is the one need. And frequently there is abundance of water a few feet beneath the surface, rivers that flow through their hidden channels. The thirsty traveler has only to dig deep enough and he will find the cool, refreshing stream.
Christians come to desert valleys of Baca in their experiences and there is a process by which the wells may be made and their thirsty, drooping spirits refreshed. The secret is in the words, “Blessed is the man whose strength is in thee, in whose heart are the highways.” No human strength can dig such a well. It is our reliance upon the strength of God that makes a well in the desert, and if in our hearts are the highways of love, peace and joy the well will never go dry.
Sin Makes a Desert
It wastes and withers every flower and shrub. After the murder of Abel the ground refused to bring forth its fruits for Cain, and up to that time he was a prosperous farmer. Sin made Earth a desert for him. A prosperous merchant forges the name of his rich neighbor to just one check; his reputation for honesty is lost and his business goes to pieces. Sin has made a desert for him. The home which is a very garden of God can be turned into a desert by sin. A life as fair as the flowers of spring can be turned into a desert full of loathsome reptiles. Drink, lust, lying, any sort of sin, can turn any life-garden of purity and beauty into a desert of vileness and moral ugliness.
But a well can be made even in the desert caused by sin. “If we confess our sins He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” Confession digs the well of forgiveness and cleansing, which fills our souls with the refreshing waters of peace and joy. “He that believeth on the son hath everlasting life.” Faith in Christ digs in our hearts the well which springs up into eternal life. “Behold the Lamb of God who taketh away the sin of the world.” A vision of Christ as sin-bearer digs in our hearts the well of consciousness that the sin question has been settled, our guilt is removed and “there is, therefore, now no condemnation to them who are in Christ Jesus.”
Sickness Makes a Desert
A friend of mine, prosperous in his profession, discovered that he had a bad case of tuberculosis, and leaving his beautiful home, went to Arizona to seek health, while his business fell to pieces. Life, at first, seemed a desert waste; but when I saw him a few weeks ago he was drinking of the waters in the wells of resignation and patience, which God on whose strength he leaned had made in his desert experience, and in his heart were the highways of faith, hope and joy. There lived in New York city a young woman who had given herself to Christ and was anxious to be useful. But disease paralyzed her body, so that she could not rise from her bed, though she could use her hands in writing. For more than forty years she lived in a little brick cottage without leaving her room a single time. The city of New York built its high houses around this little cottage with its helpless invalid, and the friends who would see her must pass through the side door of a saloon. It was like going through hell to reach heaven. That room of invalidism was a holy of holies, a miniature paradise. One could easily imagine the rustle of angels’ wings as he listened to the mellow, sweet voice from the pillow telling of God’s abiding presence with her, and when she prayed it was like friend talking with friend, so real that when you opened your eyes and looked up you almost expected to see God with whom she spoke. The rich and learned came to that little room for comfort and strength, while the poor of the neighborhood knew who was their best friend and every Christmas the turkey came as the gift of the Christ child through her. Men and women who believed in the power of God to heal urged her to seek healing of Him, but she refused, saying that it was clearly revealed to her that her mission was to witness to the fact that one can be sick and at the same time happy and useful. God was her strength and in her heart were the highways of contentment and joy. The faith and love of Bella Cooke made wells in the desert of invalidism from which her own soul drank, while she passed its waters on to thousands of others.
Richard Baxter declared that he had no thought of writing a book until he lost his health and found himself in enforced quiet. The “Saints’ Everlasting Rest” was the well made in this desert and its crystal waters have refreshed many a weary pilgrim.
Sorrow Makes a Desert
Death comes into your home and now a desolate desert feeling comes over you every time you enter the door. The vacant chair and the voice for which you listen in vain increase the barrenness of the desert. It seems like a desert made by an earthquake or the fiery lava from a volcano. But relying upon God as your strength and letting Him walk the highways of your heart will make a well even in this desert. His loving sympathy refreshes your soul. At the battle of Lakerman the bursting of a bombshell tore open a hillside and uncovered a spring whose waters revived the soldiers and helped them to gain the victory. So the great calamities which come into our lives like bursting bombshells may open sources of grace of which we did not know before. John Bunyan said he could pray for a darker and damper dungeon, for he had learned that the comforts of his soul were often in proportion to the discomforts of his body, when such discomforts were inflicted for Christ’s sake.
God never fails to hear the prayer of him whose strength He is and in whose heart are His highways. The seeming evils from beneath combine with the good from above to bless him. “Get right with God” through Jesus Christ, keep right through constant fellowship with Him and every desert will have its well, while the showers of grace from above will refresh your soul.