October 20th – “Pilgrim in this Barren Land”

There is a place, a spiritual place, we avoid like the plague. All Christians, all God’s children at some time or other must go there, and it is not Satan who drives us there, but God. That place is the desert! The wilderness.The dry and thirsty place which God seems to have deserted.
In the wilderness humans are compelled to come to terms with their own spiritual dryness, with what they see as ‘Life’s unfairness’, with their own spiritual barrenness and reasons for it. “Where are you God?” we cry, and the heavens are brass.For most of us who live in green pastures, and whose lives are set in pleasant places, there is the insipid danger which begins to suggest
in the words of Deuteronomy, “My power and the strength of my hands have produced this wealth and ease …” and I have forgotten God. My trust has drifted.I’ve become too settled in my proud and comfortable ease.
When this happens I am sometimes led into the wilderness by the Holy Spirit in order to rediscover who I am and who God is, and that all the work of salvation is his and not one scrap of mine. I am called to receive it and live it. Yet when the landscape changes and I feel lonely, or side-tracked, rejected by the world and despised, I always complain that its unfair, unjust “What have I done to deserve this” is my most natural self-pitying cry. Instead perhaps I should be saying something like this:-
“Here I am in the desert, Lord, parched and spiritually barren; help me to trust you and obey. When others seem to dwell in spiritual excitement, in rich pastures, I do envy them. Yet it is in the wilderness that Moses found you and himself. It was in the wilderness that the children of Israel learned to receive their salvation – a forty year lesson. Elijah came from the desert and fled to it as an escape. ‘What are you doing here Elijah?’ you said, Lord. Amos and a procession of God’s great men and women trudged through the desert. John the Baptist lived in it. Paul headed for it to discover the implications of his conversion to Jesus as the true Messiah. Jesus himself was led by the spirit into the wilderness to refine and test his calling as the saviour of the world – a forty day starvation trial, a spiritual battle ground.
Lord, here in the barren wilderness I am in such exalted company. I am honoured to be included in this exclusion, for here I learn to trust you and not my feelings: here I learn to pray and not to prosper -here I learn to trust you and not me and my puny strength.”
Remember how the Lord your God led you all the way in the desert these forty years.He humbled you, causing you to hunger and then feeding you with manna, which neither you nor your fathers had known, to teach you that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord. Deuteronomy 8: 2-3
A Prayer:
Bread of heaven, bread of heaven, feed me, till I want no more.
Now read Exodus Chapter 17.

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