Wednesday, September 15, 2010

The Deserts of the Heart

In the Deserts of the heart,
Let the healing start…

—W.H. Auden

It was an odd providence that sent Philip into the desert. He was a distinguished leader in the church in Jerusalem; his presence was required there. He was engaged in the mission in which “crowds with one accord listened eagerly.” Vast crowds gathered to hear his preaching.

Yet Philip was torn from busy, fruitful activity and thrust into lonely isolation: A messenger said to Philip, “Get to the south to the road that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza.” Luke adds laconically, “This is a desert” (Acts 8:26).

God may send us into the desert for awhile: The seclusion of a lingering illness, the loneliness of a new location, the desolation of suspicion and distrust, the tedium of a secular job—all are deserts in which God may work in us to get a greater work done—in us and in others.

John Bunyan’s confinement produced The Pilgrim's Progress. William Cowper’s mental illness shaped his luminous poetry and hymns. David Brainerd’s physical weakness formed his diary, a work that has mobilized more men and women for the cause of world missions than any other. There is service to be rendered in isolation and solitude, if we will but wait.

Are you in a desert? Don’t fret. Wait on God. Sit at Jesus’ feet; give yourself to him in worship, praise and adoration. Silently pray for those you encounter along the way; love them and shower them with mercy and kindness. Quietly manifest Christ’s likeness in contented anonymity. Perhaps in passing you’ll speak grace to someone like Philip’s pilgrim who will put his trust in the Savior and lead a nation to faith.[1]

There’s irony in all that God does. We deem our deserts waste places, but they’re not wasted unless we waste them in anxiety and bitterness. When we rest in God’s will for us and see it as the very best thing, he will cause the desert to bloom.

Everything we desire is in the desert, if we will but wait. “It is good that one should wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord” (Lamentations 3:25,26).


[1]  “While every day the saving message spread farther afield, some providence brought from Ethiopia…one of the queen’s principle officers and the first–fruits of the faithful throughout the world. He is believed to have been the first to go back to his native land and preach the gospel of the knowledge of the God of the universe and the life–giving sojourn of our Savior among men. Through him came the fulfillment of the prophecy: ‘Ethiopia shall stretch out her hand to God’” (Eusebius, History of the Church. 2.2.13–14, AD 266-340).

1 comment:

Cathy said...

Thanks "Mr. Roper" :) I can hear your voice from my childhood speaking this piece. - Cathy (Bob & Mary Ann's daughter :)

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