The Desert Will Bloom

Psalm 128:1 – Blessings on all who reverence and trust the Lord — on all who obey him! (TLB)

When some of us get together and discuss the future of our churches at various functions or meetings, or with pastors on a personal basis, the conversation always seems to come around to the perception that attendance in a number of Christian denominations in Canada is declining, and that as a consequence, churches are struggling financially and church leaders are, at times, discouraged.

The fact of the matter is that many older folk find it difficult to attend church on a regular basis; others have moved into long term care facilities; many have passed away; and there are few young people taking their place. On the part of a large percentage of the population, there is a definite lack of interest in weekly attendance or involvement of any kind. I was discussing this with a minister of the gospel one day, and she said that she is shocked by the number of people who don't know about God or Jesus. Sometimes, we feel like we are living in a spiritual desert.

In 1965 and 1966, I lived in a camp in the desert in the Sultanate of Muscat and Oman. I went for a long walk every afternoon after work, and the desert was indeed empty. To draw you a verbal picture, there were sand, rocks, and boulders as far as the eye could see. There were a few shrubs growing here and there, but there was virtually no new growth anywhere. And then one night in March of 1966, we had a sudden tropical downpour. Water came from the heavens in unimaginable amounts. Low lying areas, dry for months, became raging torrents, and some roads were washed out. As quickly as the rains had come, the water disappeared. The next day was hot and sunny, just like always, and the day after that, there were little flowers everywhere. Billions of seeds, dormant for months, suddenly sprouted and bloomed, practically overnight. The desert was in full bloom.

And that is what I think will happen to the Christian church. Many of us have been involved in sowing the seeds of faith in various ways, and God in His plan will bring about a change. Just like the rainstorm in the desert, when we least expect it, the rains of faith will come.

The Bible says that there will come a time when people will return to the fold. There will be a time when life without faith will lose its appeal. People will hear a voice in their hearts, urging them to come to Christ.

Lamentations 3:40 – Let us search out and examine our ways, and turn back to the Lord. (NKJV)

Isaiah 35:1 – The wilderness and the wasteland shall be glad for them, and the desert shall rejoice and blossom as the rose. (NKJV)

May we, all of us, develop the ability to bring people back to faith in Jesus as Saviour and Lord, each one of us in our own way.

Prayer: Our Father in heaven, we pray that a change will come about soon, that people will find the need to believe in Christ and to attend church. We ask it in Jesus' name. Amen.

1 comment on this post.
  1. PresbyCan Feedback:

    Preach Jesus always.


    Thank you for this message.


    Thanks for the encouragement Joel.


    Thank you for your many good devotionals.


    Thanks for pointing out God’s positive word in what seems so dark a day!


    Joel: Thank you for another inspiring devotional! This is another one I shall copy and keep for reference.


    Good morning Joel;
    Great message. Great imagery. I share your hope.


    Amen and Amen. May faith in Christ Jesus pour across our Lands like a gully-washer. Thanks for sharing. Blessings.


    A beautiful picture, Joel!
    One day …
    Thanks for writing.


    Dear Joel:
    Thanks for this one. I like your thinking. In the past revivals have happened after much prayer.
    God bless.


    The children on my street have no idea who Jesus is or was.
    It is not taught in Schools, homes and they do not attend Church because their parents do not attend.
    I would like to be optimistic but I find it difficult.


    Dear Joel,
    What a comforting picture emerged from your story that started with a deep sense of hopelessness. I will repeat your prayer for people to attend church and practice their faith.


    Joel – your devotional today really spoke to me. I am a Canadian, but have just purchased a winter home in AZ. I remember driving through the desert when it was blooming and proclaiming – how could people see this and deny that there is a God? Only He could bring such beauty out of barrenness. God Bless you.


    Hello Joel — what a wonderful message! I have felt so discouraged and very sad at times over the few people who make an effort to attend our Sunday services but, reading your message today made me feel so much better. Your thoughts gave me a different perspective and helped me to see more clearly. You gave me hope and I thank you.


    Thanks for your devotional. Like you and many others I am certain God’s church will not fail, but like the desert flowers are coming to life in smalller groups such as Bible studies and new church plantings where the focus is not on the buildings, rather on the souls who’ve come together in relationship with God. God’s church will last until Christ returns because God willed it to be so in His great plan for mankind.
    Blessings.


    Thank you Joel for your message today. It brings to mind a couple of times I have visited the desert. A few years back I visited the arctic and it was barren but when we went out of the town we were amazed at the flowers blooming from the rocks.
    It reminds me of a poem titled “God’s Way” written by the Rev. Dr. C. M. Kao who was General Secretary of the Presbyterian Church in Taiwan. He was imprisoned due to the persecution of the church. Taiwan was under martial law at that time.
    The poem also carries a similar message – be faithful God isn’t finished with us yet?
    Blessings,
    (ON)


    I personally belong to a church which consists primarily of seniors. I’m in my 60’s and there are only 3 or 4 people younger than myself. We have no youth or children attending at all unless a grandchild is willing to go to church with a grandparent, but more often as not the grandparents also stay away from church when family is visiting. It can definitely be a struggle to find ways to reach out to the community or even those close to us when so many members feel they are no longer able, because of age related issues, to do much in the way of the Lord’s work. That being said, I think it is important to not get discouraged and to not give up. We just need to keep going. And within the physical abilities and limitations (that God has given us) to keep working hard, doing our best and then abandoning any results to God himself. If nothing else we can pray, but also knowing that He will give us the strength to do what He desires from us, and perhaps more importantly, that He is in control and always will be!
    Thank you for your devotional. God Bless and grant you His Peace always.


    Dear Joel,
    Thank you for this, and your many devotionals! This is a clear call of encouragement and to faithfulness in service. I would imagine that even in the first century, Christians likely felt at times that they were “voices in the wilderness”, surrounded by the vast existing world of polytheism, emperor worship and acceptance of most deities except theirs, Jesus Christ. But they were (and we must be) faithful, and what an impact their faithful service made! The church is the Lord’s, and so is the battle, and we know Who will win! Blessings,
    (BC)


    Dear Joel,
    I pray with you for the conversion of many today.
    I think that we should be encouraging people to read books like those written by Philip Yancey and Lee Strobel, to name but two of many authors.
    Many young people in high schools and universities have been fed a diet of “unbelief is the intelligent way to go” and so are very much in need of books that logically and intelligently show the way to Grace and Faith in Jesus Christ, known for who he really is. These writers are also interesting, and readily comprehensible, being trained in journalism.
    Keep writing.


    I hope you’re right about people eventually returning to the churches.