I’ve been thinking quite a bit about deserts this week, not to be confused with desserts (although I do think about those quite a lot too). In films and cartoons deserts are often shown as places with miles and miles of sand, nothing and no one to be seen for miles and miles. It’s hot and oppressive – a place of despair.
Often in churches preachers speak about desert times in our lives referring to times in our lives when God seems absent. I think deserts can actually be really positive places. In the early church there was a group called the Desert Fathers. These were people who deliberately separated themselves from the rest of the world in order to seek God. For them the desert was a place of God’s presence not his absence.
On Sunday we looked at the story of Jesus in the wilderness in Mathew 4:1-11. Read it again here.
The first thing that we read is that Jesus was led into the desert by the Holy Spirit – God was very present in that place. It was a place where Jesus prepared for ministry, where he resisted the temptation to take the easy way out and where he was ministered to.
Perhaps a message to us here is to not be afraid of the desert but to actively seek those places where we can be quiet with God. It can be a challenging place as we are confronted with our true selves without filters or the photo shopped image we might want to portray to others. But it is a place where God meets us, challenges us and transforms us by his Spirit. It is a place where we are known completely and yet loved completely.
As Chris Tomlin sings in his song Indescribable:
“You see the depths of my heart and you love me the same.”
Why not take some time out this Lent to seek out the desert (wherever that might be for you). Take some time to be quiet and alone with God, to allow him to examine your heart and to minister to you as we begin our journey towards Easter.