I'm a visual person, and an emotional one as well. I hear and even speak at times of being in the desert; an analogy for a spiritual dry season. The business of life can get us off track and off His path. Focus is lost, time in the Word declines, and prayer is sometimes an afterthought. It is a symbol of wandering, being lost, and without direction. Away from home.
However I think there is a more dangerous and damaging season than this "desert".
It is the winter.
Winter isn't discussed much in Scripture, but when it is, it paints a vivid picture for me; danger.
It is not a time to wander, it is a time to take caution.
In certain regions like the Mediterranean, both travel on land and sea was not advised. When winter hit, it was best to stay put until it was over. Even when Paul was writing Timothy (2 Tim 4) he ends with reminding him to do his best to arrive before winter (similar themes can be seen elsewhere). When Jesus speaks of the end times (i.e. in Mark 13, or Matthew 24) the perspective of winter adds an additional chill to the picture.
It really is not much different in 2015 in the mid-west though is it? With warm houses, 4 wheel drive vehicles, and an infrastructure that is ready for it, we do well in the winter. However it is only safe because we are prepared (more on that later). Imagine no vehicle, no snowplow, and then a power outage, and lack of food and water supply on hand. This can be dangerous even for a developed society.
A play on words, creative semantics? Perhaps. However while the desert is dangerous indeed, and both require food and water, there is something different about a chill that just won't loosen its grip. There is something that wreaks of death wandering into a frozen abyss on your feet alone. I recall many time sitting in 100 plus degree weather just finding shade to stay comfortable with a drink. Though I also recall many times sitting in negative degree weather thanking God that I was not out there on the streets; because I just can't picture surviving.
One time I was hunting with my brother in -32F degree weather in my camper! I recall him stepping outside for a moment and returning exclaiming in a shiver: "That's dying weather!"
It is indeed ...
For me I equate desert times with spiritual silence and wandering, while winter times more along the lines of spiritual disobedience.
"So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin." (James 4:17 ESV)
I feel convicted each time I read that verse; and thankful for Christ.
... so back to preparing? Simple, but not easy; obedience. I see no other direct and easy path to destroying our self and others than sin. We are prone to it and we continue to struggle with it. Yet without honest reflection, prayer, and an ongoing relationship with the only One that knows how to deal with sin, we will wander not in silence, but in death.
Are we being cultural Christians, or relevant Christians? Are we Christians that reflect our culture, or are we Christians that reflect Christ in our culture?
I believe we may experience desert times without warning; but I think we have the opportunity to avoid being stranded in winter altogether.
I never want to see another spiritual winter ...