“He lived in the desert . . .”

“The child grew and developed in body and spirit. He lived in the desert until the day when he appeared publicly to the people of Israel.”  (Luke 1:80)

We were walking on a path near the edge of these woods a couple of weeks ago and I was struck by the ominous view they presented.  As you can see, the trees were so dense that they blotted out the last of the evening sun, creating a foreboding wilderness with no apparent path through to the other side.  I’m looking at this wilderness and thinking Hansel and Gretal, or Little Red Riding Hood.  Bad things live and bad things happen in the wilderness.  Why would anyone want to venture inside?  Maybe there’s something on the other side to be gained, or maybe there’s something inside to be gained. 

I’m thinking of all the school children and college students as I write this.  Most have headed back to school or will be by the end of this week.  I can remember talking with school-age children and hearing them express their fear about entering the next grade.  Maybe they were moving from third grade into fourth grade.  They were terrified that they wouldn’t be able to accomplish fourth grade work.  Maybe the new school year looked like the wilderness in my photo – dark and foreboding with no visible pathway.  I reminded them that third grade felt the same way at first, and now look!  They were through that wilderness and had grown so much in the process.  The path became visible with each step they took.  There was help through the wilderness even though they had trouble seeing it at first as they stood on the edge of the wilderness trying to peer inside.  Fast forward from fourth grade to the first year of college. Leaving home and standing on the edge of this new wilderness can be a similar experience.  Yet the risk is worth the cost because there is something to be gained by what’s inside the wilderness and what’s on the other side.  We need assurance to know that it’s worth the risk and we won’t have to do it alone. 

In truth we stand on the edge of a wilderness many times in our lives.  Maybe it’s a new job or maybe it’s a life transition like marriage, becoming parents, or experiencing the loss of a loved one.  Maybe it’s a somewhat daunting situation for a community or a church like seeking justice for the oppressed, ending violence in neighborhoods and homes, or nurturing love and respect for all. In the quote from the Gospel of Luke we hear that the child (John the Baptist) entered the desert (wilderness) and came out on the other side ready to fulfill the purpose God had for him.  God sent him in, and God walked him through.  As I wonder, I feel like I’m hearing God reminding me that the wilderness is not to be skirted or avoided.  If we face it with the faith that God is sending us into the wilderness and God will walk us through it, we’ll be okay, and good things can happen. 

It’s important for me that I face each day with that awareness.  There are new opportunities awaiting if I have the faith to enter the wilderness.  I pray that God will keep me headed in the right direction – not skirting the edge, but plowing through the middle.  How about you?

Blessings and Peace,
Pastor, Cross Lanes United Methodist Church
Cross Lanes, West Virginia

Help save lives! For more information on my book, “A Relentless Hope: Surviving the Storm of Teen Depression,” visit http://www.survivingteendepression.com.

My new book, “Wednesday Wonderings: Spiritual Journaling Through a Lens” is available at http://www.wipfandstock.com and http://www.amazon.com.
Check out my video, “Teens Surviving the Storm”

~ by revgenelson on August 20, 2014.

One Response to “Wilderness”

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