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This week’s note from Rev. Bill: WHERE IS THE “WILDERNESS”

When we hear the word “desert” or “wilderness” in the scriptures, where was that? 

             One of the things that still continues to amaze me every time I travel to the Holy Land is how close the wilderness is! You can be standing on a hill just outside of Jerusalem, and take a few steps over the top of the mountain and suddenly find yourself in the desert!

             What is so appealing about the desert? Many of the Hebrew prophets lived out in the desert. Jesus often went out to be alone. Saints throughout the ages have sought out the wilderness in order to be able to commune with God. 

             When I take Sabbath days in my ministry, I want to go as far away from “human” sounds as I can – no traffic, no hum of air conditioners, no airplanes overhead. I want to be in a place where I can hear nothing but what God has made. I want/need less distractions, less to occupy my attention, more to open myself up and hear the voice of God. 

             Many Christians misunderstood the intent of the “Desert Fathers and Mothers”. They thought that they were just going out there to avoid the distraction of everyday life, to escape the demonic influences that invade our everyday, materialistic existence. But the Fathers and Mothers did not go out to AVOID the demons; they went out to CONFRONT them! They went out, armed for battle in prayer, alone and vulnerable, but trusting in Christ to hold them safe. 

             How many troubles have you avoided in your life because someone was praying for you? You may not have even known it, but prayer has brought about more good than we realize. Those people who get up at 3:00 AM, not knowing why they are awake, but taking that opportunity to pray for their family…those who gather underground in oppressive countries, persecuted but unbowed…our own people who gather every Friday morning in our sanctuary at 9:30 to love and pray together – what strength can be found through prayer!

             Take time to pray. As we enter the season of Advent, we prepare for the coming of the Christ Child. Vulnerable, needing, unable to care for or feed Himself – and the prayers of a mother and a father who, in desperate circumstances themselves, gave of themselves for their child. 

             The wilderness, the broken places, the isolated areas are most often where we find God. Apart from the distractions, surrounded by emptiness and sometimes fear – God meets us there. “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil – for Thou art with me.”

             Find your isolated spot, and look for God there!

 Rev. Bill

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