The Desert

Many blogs have talked about the Waiting for God which is part of Advent. Here is my contribution:

I was in a desert.  The wind whipped across the wasteland as far as the eye could see.  I had food, fuel for a fire and sufficient water to survive for a long time, but was it worth making the effort?  I felt so alone, so tired of soldiering on without human contact.

I built a fire, slowly, slowly.  Every twig was an effort to lift and place on the fire.  Would anyone come?  My tent was pitched and I made slow preparations for another meal alone, another night alone.  Even He seemed so remote, though I could sense His hand in the aching bigness of this wilderness.  I wondered how John the Baptist lived so many years like this.  Another meal went past, and I cleared away because there seemed little else to do.  Nothing to see, nothing to say, nowhere to go.

How did I come here?  I reached out again to the emptiness in my spirit where once I could find Him so easily.  But now nothing was there but this desert of loneliness without Him.  Somehow even the very fact of missing Him seemed to make the bigness of where I was bigger.

I reflected back as I sipped my coffee.  How had I come here?  The path was narrow, and dangerous.  Only a rough track through the grassy slopes as I had climbed up the hill behind Him.  I thought back – one false step, and I had slid and rolled sideways off the track and down the slope of the hill.  When I had come to, I could not find the way back up the hillside, and I had wandered instead far off into this ever-present landscape of hills and rocks.

I turned the light off and headed for bed.  I tried again to reach Him, but once again I gave up in despair.  I had not been this way before, and who knew what I would learn on the journey.  I slept, tossing wakefully.

He came, to watch me while I slept.  He sat, and gazed at me.  He loved me so much, that He could not stay away, even though He might wake me by His breathing.  I tossed and turned on the hard stony ground.  His heart was broken again.  For me.  Just for me.  No one else mattered at this minute to Him.  He could bear my pain no longer.  He slipped an arm under my head, and I curled up trustfully and slid into a more restful sleep.

I woke first, in the morning, and He was there, asleep beside me.  I lay and gazed in amazement at how relaxed and beautiful He was.  He looked exhausted, so I thought I had better leave Him to sleep.  As I slipped quietly out to boil the kettle suddenly life had meaning and purpose again.  “He looks worse than I did last night.  He will surely need a drink when He wakes up.  And some breakfast.”  And I busied myself with the tasks that seemed so pointless last night.

Motivation.  Is He our motivation?  Will we serve Him only when He is consciously, joyously present with us?  Or will we remain faithful when our Lord is absent?

When He comes, will He find faith on the earth?

I had a conversation over breakfast with Him, but I seemed to know the answers before He told me them.  As though I heard them in my dreams during my nights alone in the desert.  Maybe the wild, homeless, wind whispered the answers in my ears as I slept.  Or maybe the One who was too concerned to stay away all day and all night held me close enough to hear His breathing.

“Be True.  You are not afraid anymore.  Like a reed swaying with the Wind – not standing stiff and self-righteous up in opposition to Him…

“Be Loved.  You are not a servant anymore but a friend now. This is true – He talks with me and I do not stand in awe of Him.  I am not afraid to reply, to joke or to criticise or complain.  He is my friend, and He will tell me what is true.

“Be Owned. I belong to and with Jesus now.  He can never let me go.  Somehow, wherever I am and no matter how hard the path gets, I can sense the wideness of His victory in all the elements of the created world.  Nothing can separate me from the love He extends.

Half-dazed, I lie back and just gaze at the vastness of the desert sky.  It is as though, in the enormity of all that blue, I can see just the tiniest glimpse of the vastness of His love and concern for me.  “It is sufficient.  Thank you Lord!”

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