Formby: I Cared for You in the Wilderness

Last week I preached at Ainsdale on Merseyside. I foolishly turned down an offer of lunch; having found myself in an interesting place on a sunny day, I resolved not to drive home immediately. I therefore walked down the coast to Formby, an hour or so’s walk to the south. I must have been the only one on that beach wearing formal shirt and trousers, and I’d left behind my straw hat, not anticipating the trek. The sea was so far out that the massive expanse of sand resembled a desert. On approaching Formby, I came across that place’s sand dunes, carefully managed by the National Trust. Not only was I without a hat, but I lacked water also, giving my location an even more desert-like feel.


Great Britain is a fertile, temperate island and we have few deserts, especially of the archetypical sand dune variety. In our lives, however, we often go through barren periods, lacking refreshment from thirst and shade from the sun’s scorching rays. In Hosea 13:5, we read

I cared for you in the wilderness, In the land of drought’.

Although the verse’s context indicates impending judgement, the words are a reminder of the Lord’s provision and kindness to His people while they journeyed in a difficult climate. It’s important to remember that God’s care and tender mercy are still there even when our environment becomes challenging and difficult.

Thankfully, my brief sojourn in the Lancashire desert terminated in a train journey back to Ainsdale and a cool drink. My time spent battling through the desert of this life will also end in a swift journey home and much-needed refreshment.