THE word desert invokes visions of barren, arid wasteland. But the prophet Isaiah saw it differently when he said, ``The desert shall rejoice, and blossom as the rose'' (35:1). Perhaps Isaiah was saying, No matter how bleak the outlook, there is a divine design to transform our lives for the better.
Christ Jesus demonstrated this, making grim situations occasions for healing, and barren lives full. He knew man's life is derived from God, unfailing Love, and therefore must continuously express God's goodness.
Challenging experiences can become holy encounters through uplifting prayer. One that stands out to me was a literal desert ordeal. Our family (my wife and I and four children--one an infant) were traveling in summer from the eastern United States to the West Coast. Twenty-five miles from one small town and thirty to the next, the car sputtered to a stop. The gas gauge--faulty-- registered half full, but the tank was empty. The picture looked ominous. The heat of the day was coming on fast--and it had not occurred to us to bring water.
While the children played, my wife and I prayed. Over many years, and in desolate moments, we had benefited from prayer; sickness had been healed, sin overcome, work improved, housing found. So we turned humbly and confidently to God to await His blossoming desert.
Scientific prayer does not beg God to deliver us from a pit we have inadvertently dug to our own detriment. Such prayer reveals what the eye cannot see--a higher view of reality. It makes us aware of God's ever-present love perpetually caring for man as His own perfect idea, or beloved child. Prayer achieves a new mode of thought based on spiritual evidence, which replaces despondency and fear with hope and brings healing.
As we prayed, we became conscious of God as our Father-Mother, the divine Principle, Love, meeting our needs right then and there. Distress and dismay dissolved in the confidence that we could never for a moment be separate from Love's care and ever-unfolding goodness. We thought of a statement in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy, the Founder of the Christian Science Church: ``Christian Science, contradicting sense, maketh the valley to bud and blossom as the rose'' (p. 596).
As our thoughts were prayerfully uplifted from a material to a spiritual view, the desert itself appeared more beautiful. And a heavenly peace opened our thought to new possibilities and made us ready for action.
Just as the baby started crying for a drink, a car stopped on the sparsely driven highway and offered water. It reminded us of many Biblical examples of God's provision of water to those athirst in the desert. Next a military pickup truck stopped. When we told the driver our plight, he loaded mother and babe into the cab, while the rest of us were thrilled to ride in the open pickup bed. We were brought to an Army mobile communications unit, where help was summoned. While the children toured the unit with soldiers, my wife and I gave thanks for the divine power that had made the desert blossom for us with lovingkindness and care.
Soon we were on our way with a tank full of gas and with the joy that had filled the two-hour venture. A little voice from the rear sang out, ``That was fun! Can we do it again sometime?'' The desert threat that tried to take away our happiness proved to be only a spiritual encounter revealing greater good. No situation is outside God's loving care.