Photo of saddled camels

“Diary of a Camel Rider”

The camel: one of the most revered animals in Arabian culture.  And this is the animal I found myself unsteadily sitting on a month ago in the deserts of Jordan, the location of my college study abroad program (specifically Amman, Jordan).

I remember feeling so uncoordinated trying to get one leg propped over one side of the huge animal and then after I succeeded in doing so, letting out a tiny scream as I held onto the hairs of the camel as he (or she?) stood up.  A camel, at its full height, is a majestic creature indeed, and I felt powerful sitting on top of such an animal.

Now what exactly am I doing you may ask?  So my study abroad program organized an overnight trip for my fellow participants and I to trek through a desert called Wadi Rum.  This is the same desert that T.E. Lawrence crossed and the same desert where the film Lawrence of Arabia was shot.  In other words: one magnificent desert.

Prerna Balasundaram on Camel

Prerna Balasundaram

So back to our trek: at one particular point, we turned a corner into an expanse of desert between the two canyons walls.  The most beautiful part, riding through this section of desert, was looking up and seeing how the setting sun kissed the top of the canyon walls.  I remember looking up at the soft sunlight touching the canyon walls, looking straight ahead to the majestic silhouette of the mountains in the distance, and finally looking down at the sandy desert floor that stretched on for miles and thinking, “WOW, God created this all.”

One of the most exhilarating moments of that journey across the desert was the realization that not only is God so Great that He created the vast desert that stretches further than my eyes can see; but also, God is so Loving that He sent His Son down to Earth in the form of a simple human.

I think of the verse from Philippians: “[Jesus Christ] emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, being born in human likeness.  And being found in human form, he humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death—even death on a cross” (Philippians 2: 7-8).

Personally, I think that contrast is astounding.  God, the Maker of the colossal desert I trekked through, is the same God that came down in mere human form to not just be with me, but to forgive all my sins and give me eternal life with Him.  Hallelujah!  What a beautiful message!

So if you ever get the chance to ride a camel across the desert, four wheel across the plains, hike through a forest, climb a mountain, or simply walk in a park, think about the power of the contrast between one God who is not just Creator but also Friend.

Written by Prerna Balasundaram, a member of the Young Adult Council. Article can be found in the June 2014 issue of The Press, a young adult newsletter.