We talked last time about the ground level of getting through a desert experience — learning to survive. Survival is not passive; it involves gaining strength while enduring through dryness. But we don’t have to stay at the endurance level. We can move on to the next step:
Level 2: Creating a Personal Oasis
At this level, we learn to dwell in our personal pool of His Presence in the midst of the desert. The consciousness of this “personal Presence pool” makes the terrain we walk through less important. It may be a desert around us, but we carry our own little oasis with us wherever we go. I’ll try to explain what I mean.
During a time when the Lord was teaching me about the great depths of His grace, He brought to my attention a couple of verses:
Psalm 118:5 — “I called upon the Lord in distress: the LORD answered me, and set me in a large place.”
Psalm 31:7, 8 — “… You have known my soul in adversities, and have not shut me up into the hand of the enemy; you have set my feet in a large room.”
He showed me that the “large place” that He sets our feet in is like a pool around us of His grace and glory, which we take with us wherever we go. It never departs from us. But in order to draw upon it, we must be aware that it exists.
Shortly after that, I had a vision, while in a congregational worship setting, of standing in a spotlight which was coming down out of heaven. It was a spotlight of grace and the Lord’s glory-presence. The Lord explained to me that each believer has his own personal spotlight, and as we move, the light moves with us wherever we go. We don’t just have it when we are worshiping with other believers amid a high sense of God’s glory. We take it with us all the time.
For illustration purposes, we can think of our large place of God’s Presence in terms of a spotlight or a pool of water. However we view it, it is about dwelling in Him, being refreshed continually by Him. It is a picture of abiding. The more we are conscious of our personal pool, the more it refreshes us — like an oasis in a parched land — but this oasis is different: it travels with us.
It is not easy to transition from Level 1 (survival in the desert) to Level 2 (carrying our oasis with us as we go through it). As I inquired of the Lord about how to make it through my own desert, He said to me, “If you will put your roots down deep in Me, I will water you.” Maintaining our oasis requires effort, including more than ordinary times of waiting on the Lord in prayer and steeping ourselves in His Word. When we live in an arid spiritual climate, we don’t usually have anyone handy to spoon-feed us the Word or to bring the Presence of God to us. We have to go after the Lord for ourselves, because there isn’t the opportunity to piggyback ride on other people who carry God’s glory.
To go from Step 1 to Step 2, I find I have to consciously think about my personal glory pool a lot. When I am in a corporate worship setting, if there doesn’t seem to be much stirring in the group as a whole, I tell the Lord, “I will just worship You here in my pool of Your Presence, even if I can’t sense much happening around me.” I have experienced the Lord wonderfully in the midst of some pretty unlikely places as a result of doing that. I often ask the Lord to let my pool bump into other people and rub off on them a bit (s0 they can piggyback ride on my experience!).
Next time, we’ll take a look at Level 3. I really like this one!