Sometimes we refer to a dry period with God as a desert experience. You probably know what I am talking about; it's when you seem so far away from God that you can't sense his blessings, his power or his presence. It's strange that we refer to this as a "desert experience" because when we look at the desert times in the Bible it was a place of preparation and transition, with God in the midst of it.
Israel spent 40 years in the desert in the presence of the Lord. He led them as a pillar of cloud in the day and a pillar of fire at night. He provided for their every need and he prevented anything from wearing out. It was a time of great blessing. The old, disobedient things died off in that desert so that when the nation emerged it was the strongest generation of Israelites who ever walked the planet. They were completely dependent on God and believed they could do anything because of him. They trusted his promises.
John the Baptist ministered and lived in the desert. He was the greatest prophet who ever lived. His was a preparation ministry as he prepared the people for the arrival of Jesus. People came to the desert to hear the voice of God, to repent, to begin afresh. John was powerful because God was present. He had words of knowledge and preached with the power of conviction. He too trusted God's promises.
Jesus Christ was sent to the desert by the Spirit in order to prepare for the coming three years that he would spend ministering to the nation. It was a time of prayer, preparation and deep fellowship in the Spirit. It is where the enemy attacked but it is also where the victory was won. There was so much happening spiritually in that place and then the angels came to minister to Jesus. A time of transition and preparation before the new thing began. It seems deserts have a great deal to do with times of transitions but it is help the old fall away and the new to come forward. It is not a distancing experience but a growing closer to God.
The fact that people have "desert experiences", a distancing from God, is a concern. The only things that can distance us from God is unconfessed sin and neglect. It is a type of depression that our spirit enters when we remove ourselves from fellowship with God. I also refer to it as a "soul sick" experience. Depression is often experienced due to loss. When we remove ourselves from God's fellowship simply due to neglect of this fellowship our spirit experiences as loss in a dramatic manner.
Those of you who exercise may understand the concept better than most. Whether you are a runner, cyclist or resistance trainer you know what it is to experience that sensation of wellness. Your body is receiving all the proper nutrition and exercise it needs to feel great and to work great. You look forward to your exercise time because of the "high" your body feels after a great work out. However, if something prevents you from exercising for a period of time your body slips into a depressed state. It feels tired, warn down, no energy; you lack motivation to do the simplest tasks and you just want to sit around and do nothing.
When we neglect our fellowship with God our spirit slips into this depressive state and we begin to feel that we are distant from God. The disciples who were walking to Emmaus were feeling this way as the discussed the matter with each other. They had a wonderful fellowship and relationship with Jesus and suddenly he was gone. They had grown dependent on him and he had become everything in their life.They felt lost, destroyed, helpless and hopeless. Their future was gone. Then Jesus came along side them without them realizing who he was and he began to teach them from the Word:
He said to them, “How foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Did not the Christ have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?” And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself. (Luke 24:25-27)
There it is! How foolish we are to forget! What are we suppose to do if we have foolishly slipped into this state of depression due to our neglect of fellowship? Turn to the Word. Remind yourself of God's promises. Claim them for yourself. Remind yourself that these promises were given to you. Walk in them. I mean base every moment of your day on these promises and do not doubt. Step back into fellowship and do what you need to do to return to the familiar in this fellowship. These two disciples did not recognize Jesus until he did something that was familiar to them, something they had seen him do every day they were with him:
When he was at the table with them, he took bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them. Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him, and he disappeared from their sight. (Luke 24:30-31)
Feeling distant from God is not normal and is not God's plan for you. You need to search your own heart to discover the reason for this distance because it is caused by us not God. Look for any unconfessed sin and if there is none then examine your fellowship with God. Have you been neglecting the Word, prayer, worship or even service? Have you been disobedient in tasks you have been given to do? Whatever the reason, the solution is a simple one. Turn to the Word, stand on the promises, and renew your fellowship with the Holy One.
“Today, if you hear his voice,
do not harden your hearts.” (Hebrews 4:7)