Sunday, April 7, 2019

Writing from the Desert

by Audrey Frank @AudreyCFrank

O God, you are my God, earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you, my body longs for you, in a dry and weary land where there is no water (Psalm 63:1, When David was in the Desert of Judah).

Bump, roll…thump! Bump, roll…thump!


Riding on a camel through the Sahara Desert, I gripped the rein tightly with one hand and my four-year-old son with the other. He had immediately named our camel Sand Bob and was thrilled with our bumpy ride. Sand Bob was a perfect name for our wooly, slobbering friend because we were surrounded by sand as far as we could see in every direction. On our way to a Berber village, we would celebrate Christmas in tents made of brightly colored, thick, woolen rugs. Our caravan of camels created a silhouette of cutout paper dolls on the golden dunes as we loped slowly along.

The Sahara Desert is the largest hot desert in the world and one of the harshest environments on Earth. It covers a third of the African continent, spanning a stunning 3.6 million square miles. We were journeying over a minuscule portion of that monstrosity and we were well supplied with water and food, but its sheer size and presence still loomed powerful and intimidating. I never failed to feel a sense of awe, fear, and excitement when we took our desert treks. 

The desert taught me life lessons I will never forget.

I Can Sing in the Darkness

On my bed I remember you; I think of you through the watches of the night. Because you are my help, I sing in the shadow of your wings (verses 6-7).

The songs of our friends, worshipping by the light of small, handmade kerosene lamps, rose around us as peace filled the vast darkness.  Bundled in heavy wool sweaters and hats, my husband and I grabbed a blanket and quietly slipped away with our boys to the top of a sand dune, shining silver in the moonlight. Myriad stars twinkled in the night sky, making the darkness look temporary, as if it were being torn and stretched by some tremendous, overpowering light of heaven on the other side, as if it would soon disintegrate and surrender completely to the bright light behind it. 

The light is greater than the darkness, I thought to myself.

Settling on the blanket with our boys in our arms, we told them our news: They were going to have a baby sister. 

His voice a sacred hush, our nine-year-old asked soberly, “Will she wake up first in heaven or with us?”

Much like our long journey through the desert earlier that day, the past few years had seemed endless, surrounded by desert. Cancer had put me at high risk for miscarriage and we had lost a baby the year before. I was two years post-recovery and was expecting another child.

Like the Psalmist, I had spent many nights on my bed thinking of the Lord, reminding my soul that He was my help, singing in the shadow of his wings as the desert of illness and loss loomed long and seemingly interminable before me. Tonight, sitting at the pinnacle of this real Desert, we chose to sing again and trust the One who made the sand.

My Soul Will Be Satisfied

My soul will be satisfied as with the richest of foods; with singing lips my mouth will praise you (verse 5).

The desert does not have to determine my soul’s satisfaction. Though my portion of the journey may seem unending and frightening, My God sees me. He is the God who saw Hagar in the desert and gave her hope and a future. He is the God who made all 3.6 million square miles of this desert through which I slowly trod and He can deliver me from the very small space I occupy in its vastness.

The God of the desert knows the deepest fantasies and desires of my heart, the “richest of foods” for which I long in my most desperate moments. When I turn my soul’s thirst upon Him, when I force my body’s longing upon Him, my God will satisfy my soul.

The Desert Can Be a Place of Rejoicing

But the king will rejoice in God; all who swear by God’s name will praise him (verse 11).

The desert will not always become an oasis. Sometimes it becomes a place of fellowship and provision. The place that moments before appeared barren and desolate transforms before our very eyes to a place of rejoicing.

As we made our way back down the dune, I took in the scene below me. Our boys were squealing and sliding down the dune as if it were covered in thick snow, not sand. The tents sat nestled together in a dip in the valley as warm lamplight illuminated the smiling faces of friends sharing hot cups of sweet mint tea. Sand Bob sat curled up to the other camels in our caravan, completely at peace to wait for morning. And somewhere in the darkness, someone continued to sing in the night.

God provides in the desert. There is so much to write about from this unlikely place. But it is a place we have all sojourned and a place where we find songs in the night.

Lord, be my help in the desert. Give me songs in the night, and let your words flow from me for others. Amen.


Audrey Frank is an author, speaker, and storyteller. The stories she shares are brave and true. They give voice to those whose words are silenced by shame, the hard things in life that don’t make sense, and the losses that leave us wondering if we will survive. Audrey and her family have spent over twenty years living and working among different cultures and world views, and she has found that God’s story of redemption spans every geography and culture. He is the God of Instead, giving honor instead of shame, gladness instead of mourning, hope instead of despair. Although she has three different degrees in communication and intercultural studies, Audrey’s greatest credential is that she is known and loved by the One who made her.

Her upcoming book, Covered Glory: The Face of Honor and Shame in the Muslim World, is an outpouring of Audrey’s heart to introduce others to the God of Instead. Shame is not unique to the developing world, the plight of the women behind veils, young girls trafficked across borders; shame is lurking in hearts everywhere. Through powerful stories from women around the world, Covered Glory illuminates the power of the Gospel to remove shame, giving honor instead. Available for pre-order now at

You can also find Audrey at, as well as on Twitter and Facebook


  1. How exciting to prepare for church this morning with tears of joy in my eyes. What a wonderful testimony to God's faithfulness to His children Ms. Audrey. You just make my week ma'am. God's blessings...

    1. So glad we are on this sojourn together, Jim! Blessings to you today, Audrey

  2. Replies
    1. Hello, Ingmar! So nice to hear your voice today. Thank you for your encouragement.

  3. Replies
    1. You are welcome, Clella. I pray that your words are flowing today! Blessings to you, Audrey