It became the hometown of the hidden prince of Israel named Mephibosheth. Having been crippled when his father fell in battle, his nanny on the run dropping him, he is hidden by well-meaning people trying to preserve the life of this little guy who threatened the new regime taking over the kingdom.
Soon enough, Mephibosheth had forgotten his birth name, which spoke to strength and honor, defeating the enemies of Israel and God, and identified with his new name: breathing shame. Here in this hidden place, he learned what it was to live in a barren land. LoDebar means “without pasture.” In an agricultural/nomadic society, no one would want to pitch their tent in a place where their flocks and crops could not flourish. And yet this is what LoDebar represented: a dry, barren place with no fruitfulness.
It was here he learned not to trust. It was here he learned the accusations that were made against the new king, ones of fear and torment that the new king wanted him dead. It was here he learned to fear.
We all find ourselves in LoDebar at times in our lives. Some people out of despair choose to stay and make a life there. Others of us travel through and hopefully move on quickly to safer lands. But it is a reality of our faithwalk that we will find ourselves in places without pasture at times.
What happens when we’re in a dry place? Jesus found himself there, right after the greatest event of his life. He was in the water with John, his cousin, who had just dunked him under and baptizing him, when God the Father spoke out of heaven and people heard Him say “This is my beloved Son in who I am well pleased.” What an incredible moment! Wouldn’t you love to have a moment where God rends the heavens and speaks out on your behalf? To validate your existence and declare his pleasure over you?
And this is what happened to Jesus. Fully God, but yet fully man, he still needed his Father’s approval and acceptance and endorsement. But it was from this place he found his own LoDebar. Being led by the Holy Spirit, Jesus ends up in the wilderness, or desert, and there he is confronted by his and our enemy. The enemy begins his attack with seven little words: “If you are the Son of God…” These words have weight, they have power. They question Jesus’ very existence and purpose in life, as well as his identity.
The same goes for us. When we find ourselves in those dry, barren places, where there seems to be no refreshing for our soul or recovery from the battle, into that place comes a spirit of accusation. Just like the words that bound up Mephibosheth and threatened Jesus, the voice speaks to us that we are not who we thought we were. The truth of our identity as a child of God comes under attack, as if we were Jesus when we hear the voice say “If God really did love you, then why…”
How we respond in LoDebar makes all the difference of whether or not we will survive here or build a home in this place. Will we choose to accept the accusations of the enemy or will we trust the words we have heard before, those of love and grace and truth? Whose voice will we allow to become loudest in our ears?