“D” is for Desert (February 27, 2012)

…Opening To…

Now let us all with one accord, in company with ages past, keep vigil with our heavenly Lord in his temptation and his fast. (Gregory the Great, from The Hymnal 1982)

…Listening In…

The desert and the dry land will be glad; the wilderness will rejoice and blossom like the crocus. They will burst into bloom, and rejoice with joy and singing. (Isaiah 35:1-2; context)

…Filling Up…

This Lent, we are exploring our faith by running through the alphabet. Today, “D” is for desert. The desert plays a big role in the Bible. Quite a bit of it is set there, though sometimes our translations use the word “wilderness” interchangeably with desert. The people of Israel wander in the desert for forty years between fleeing Egypt and arriving in the Promised Land. Jesus spends forty days in the desert after his baptism. There he fasts and resists the temptations of the devil.

Perhaps you live near a real desert – out in Arizona or California perhaps. I don’t, so when the Bible talks about the desert or wilderness, I place myself not in a literal desert but a figurative one. You see, the desert is all around us. We live in the desert. Sometimes through our actions and inactions, we contribute to expanding the desert. The desert exists anywhere that we feel isolated or afraid or tempted or lost. And let’s be honest – we are feeling at least one of those most of the time.

But just because we find ourselves in the desert much of the time does not make it simply a place of trial or a proving ground. God does not drop us in the desert just to test our endurance. We simply wander into the wilderness, and we get caught there because the wilderness is vast and tangled. Sometimes, the desert extends its pathless expanse as far as the eye can see.

But when the people of Israel got stuck there for all those years, they made a remarkable discovery. God was in the desert, too. God was everywhere they were, including the wilderness. God doesn’t stop at the desert’s edge. In fact, God can make the desert blossom.

…Praying For…

Dear God, you love all you create and never forsake me to lonely wandering. Help me to let you guide my feet in the pathless desert so that I can follow your lead as we make our way out together. In Jesus Christ’s name I pray. Amen.

…Sending Out…

I leave this moment with you, God, nourished by your Spirit and willing to open up a larger space within for you to dwell.

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