Over two years ago, after leaving the church, and failing in my marriage, a wise and elderly spiritual mentor examining my situation declared that I was in a “desert place.” When I wrote about that a couple of days later on this blog I shared these words:
“When you are in the desert all the rules you have previously known and understood change. It is a very different place. It is a place of challenge and possibly even death but it is also a place of discovery. It is a place where time is negotiable because you don’t know how long you will be here.”
I revisit this today not even sure where this post will take me but trying to deal with the feelings and emotions I am experiencing. Stepping aside from one’s calling for whatever reason does not mean that the calling leaves you. The God that clearly called me and used me in ministry is still here and still stirs my heart at times. It is interesting in the desert because generally it is a private place. There are no crowds clamoring for your attention. It is very quiet and while you have something to say and share the opportunity is not there. There are not many doors . . . or at least they are hard to find.
You may read this and assume that I want to be a pastor again but that would be too easy and would be an incorrect assumption. Church as it is in most places has very little appeal for me. I’m sorry to say that but I’ve seen too much. I would love to be part of God’s church but can’t seem to find how or where to get in. I am searching for His door. God’s church is made up of people who are doing His work on this earth. They are His hands, arms and feet. This church is not so much about Sunday morning gatherings as it is about seven days a week living with the broken, bruised and bullied.
Seriously think about it for a few moments with clarity. Do you really think that if Jesus came back to earth for a visit that He would make a global tour of all the “great churches” and their Sunday services? Would he schedule a multi city tour and pack out arenas with worship bands and killer multi media presentations? I can’t see it happening. And yet we spend so much time and energy trying to be creative and cool in our churches.
Much like He did in the first advent I think He would largely upset the church world. I think He would care less about so much of what goes on in His name. I think the church would have to go places they never go to find Him. He would find the broken, bullied and bruised and He would go to them. He would visit with His church, the men and women that daily bleed in the trenches until they are often too tired to even think about “going to church” because they have been so busy being the church that Jesus envisioned and challenged us to be.
Believe it or not, I like going to church because I want and long for community but in reality it will mean nothing when I fall on my face before Him someday. I am afraid out here in the desert. I am afraid that I spent a lot of years doing church instead of being the church. My old friend was so right. The desert is a place of calling and clarity. Maybe that’s why some biblical characters spent some time out here. God chose the desert path to prepare them for their new journeys. I have seen the foot prints of Moses on the backside of the desert and even the Apostle Paul in this desert place. John the Baptist came crying out of this wilderness and even Jesus spent a few days here being tested and tried. Matthew 4:1 states
“Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted there by the devil.
I long to be used by God but not on a platform or behind a pulpit. I am looking for a way. I keep hearing the voice of Jesus out here. It’s like a continual sound that never goes away. .
Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry, and you fed me. I was thirsty, and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger, and you invited me into your home. 36 I was naked, and you gave me clothing. I was sick, and you cared for me. I was in prison, and you visited me.’
37 “Then these righteous ones will reply, ‘Lord, when did we ever see you hungry and feed you? Or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 Or a stranger and show you hospitality? Or naked and give you clothing? 39 When did we ever see you sick or in prison and visit you?’
40 “And the King will say, ‘I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters,[f] you were doing it to me!’
41 “Then the King will turn to those on the left and say, ‘Away with you, you cursed ones, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his demons. 42 For I was hungry, and you didn’t feed me. I was thirsty, and you didn’t give me a drink. 43 I was a stranger, and you didn’t invite me into your home. I was naked, and you didn’t give me clothing. I was sick and in prison, and you didn’t visit me.’
44 “Then they will reply, ‘Lord, when did we ever see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and not help you?’
45 “And he will answer, ‘I tell you the truth, when you refused to help the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were refusing to help me.’
46 “And they will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous will go into eternal life.” Matthew 25:34-46 NLT
And then I hear His words in the Sermon on the Mount:
“Knowing the correct password—saying ‘Master, Master,’ for instance—isn’t going to get you anywhere with me. What is required is serious obedience—doingwhat my Father wills. I can see it now—at the Final Judgment thousands strutting up to me and saying, ‘Master, we preached the Message, we bashed the demons, our God-sponsored projects had everyone talking.’ And do you know what I am going to say? ‘You missed the boat. All you did was use me to make yourselves important. You don’t impress me one bit. You’re out of here.” Matthew 7:21-23 The Message
Well, I’m still in the desert and I have a feeling that God is calling but to something very different. Maybe it’s to one or two at a time. Maybe it’s to many but I’ll leave that up to Him. Maybe it’s just to those closest to me.
“Woe is me, for I am undone!
Because I am a man of unclean lips,
And I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips;
For my eyes have seen the King,
The Lord of hosts.”
6 Then one of the seraphim flew to me, having in his hand a live coal which he had taken with the tongs from the altar. 7 And he touched my mouth with it, and said:
“Behold, this has touched your lips;
Your iniquity is taken away,
And your sin purged.”
8 Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying:
“Whom shall I send,
And who will go for Us?”
Then I said, “Here am I! Send me.” Isaiah 6:5-8 NKJV
Here i am Lord . . .here i am