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Deserts and Dependence

Abraham sat in the shade of his tent and waited out the hottest part of the day. Looking out into the distance, he saw three men approaching.

Abraham leapt to his feet and ran out to meet them. He invited them into his home and then went to find his wife Sarah.

“Hurry! Get three large measures of your best flour, knead it into dough, and bake some bread.” Then Abraham ran out to the herd and chose a tender calf and gave it to his servant, who quickly prepared it. (Genesis 18:6-7, NLT)

Sarah prepared bread from sixty pounds worth of flour. Their servant roasted an entire calf. Abraham garnished the meal with yogurt and milk.

This was an extravagantly generous meal for three men.

I never understood why Abraham would have gone to such great lengths for these strangers until I lived this story.

We were hiking through the southern Israeli desert when we came to a Bedouin camp. (The Bedouin are nomadic Arabs that live mostly in desert regions.)

Our guide knew this particular Bedouin family quite well and, when they saw us approaching, they sent a young boy out on a donkey to escort us into the camp.

A beautiful Arab woman named Hadijah welcomed us into her home and immediately put her daughters to work baking bread and preparing the sweetest (and hottest) tea I’ve ever tasted.

We gathered in their open-aired common room and rested our tired legs. The shade of the tent was a welcome respite from the scorching desert sun.

Why would Hadijah shelter and feed sixty smelly, sweaty strangers?

Because she knew what Abraham knew.

The desert is a place of dependence.

It is a place where we depend on others and they depend on us.

It is a place where we can give and receive hospitality and generosity.

It is a place to bless others and to be blessed by others.

When we’re in our own deserts it is so easy to be concerned only about our own needs.

But, just for a moment, let’s change our focus.

Instead of asking how we are going to survive our deserts, let’s look out into the distance and see how we can help others survive theirs.

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