Friendship in the Desert

Thrift Schooling


The albino camel glanced up from grazing to find the majority of his herd halfway down the mountain. As the sunrise crawled up the horizon, I pulled my sleeping bag tight around my shoulders as I watched him descend gracefully in the distance. Still in awe of the open canopy of stars in which we slept under the night before, I soaked in the picturesque masterpiece painting the sky over the Dead Sea below. The Lord continued to show me His beauty and splendor amid a dry and desert place on the mountaintop of En Gedi. The peaceful rest the night before was preceded by worship and praise around a campfire with new friends. The songs of peace, healing, and deliverance echoed through my mind again when I arose that morning.

I meandered to the cliff’s edge as the group began to assess our morning trek. My eyes remained fixated on fading sunrise. Perhaps similar to the one that graced these hills when David escaped to the clefts of the rocks when hiding from King Saul. The same sun that stood still for Joshua in Gibeon in the distance. The same that was created on the fourth day of Creation after the light of the world had already made His debut on planet earth. The sand under my feet was not holy, nor the sea below, but the God who was with David in these mountains as he sought safety was—and is today. 

Contemplating the friendships strengthened during this journey, I pondered the kindred spirits of David and Jonathan. The devotion and dedication of Jonathan to someone who he could have easily been jealous of due to David’s destined kingship was inspiring. When David was nestled in these hills, he knew not if he would be reunited with his friend. We know now that he wasn’t. Would I see these friends again once we parted ways after this journey to return to our respective towns in the states? 

Laura extended her hand as I stumbled on an overturned rock. “Oh, I’m okay. Thanks,” I panted while braving a smile. Laura, Helen, and I unpacked our breakfast amid the waterfall we had journeyed so far to experience while the others sat in the cleft of the rock a few yards away. 

Friends like this were a once-in-a-lifetime. "Oil and perfume make the heart glad, and the sweetness of a friend comes from his earnest counsel," (Proverbs 27:9). The heartfelt conversations throughout our months studying in Israel never left that country, but its effects did. The vulnerability that we expressed drove our conversations to a place of depth that demanded change. It led us to the Scriptures which cut through our hearts like a double-edged sword. We were confronted with our selfishness, fears, and insecurities. As iron sharpens iron we encouraged each other to begin each day immersing ourselves in the Word of God. This was not hard to do this particular morning along the nearby streams.

“And David went up from there and lived in the strongholds of En Gedi,” 1 Samuel 23:29. Helen read as we finished our meal. She exhorted on how Saul had been pursuing him but was distracted, giving David a chance to escape to safety. While in a desert place, the Lord provided a place of safety and now I know that this was not only a place of safety but a place of beauty. A spring in the middle of a desert—reminiscent of the value of true friendship that I would continue to experience throughout life. 

Regardless of the desert, I have always found a friend. When I buried my own child, friends comforted. When depression tormented my soul, friends showed me hope. When close friends betrayed me, I found a friend that is closer than a brother (Proverbs 28:24). Friendship is not found, it is created. In both difficult and serene moments like these, we are given windows of opportunity to both influence and be influenced by those around us. The rare albino camel I spotted early that morning found his herd when he thought he was alone, as did I that fateful day in En Gedi.     

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