Meet Me in the Desert… God is there.

It’s been awhile since I have written. With so many voices saying so much, I didn’t think I had much to offer. Imagine comparison of how the desert feels like a barren place compared to a forrest. Yet, the desert is full of life. I realized, just because I am not one of the trees, doesn’t mean there isn’t something to say. The text for the second Sunday of Advent helped me realize it was time to write again.

Many imagine the desert as an empty and barren place. It is not flowing with water or green flora. The animals are not lush and beautiful with brilliant plumage or stunning hides. Yet the desert is full of life.

When my mother in law died, we ran to the desert. I needed the simple space to meet with God. The busy and chaotic life abundant spaces were no comfort to me. And so we went. As my heart struggled with God to come to terms with my faith and grief, I saw God present. EVERYWHERE. Earth that had been stripped of being hidden by foliage showed mineral rivers and the power of rain. There were flowers all around me. The wind had shaped the earth into tunnels that looked like something off of Tatooine from Star Wars. At night animals skittered through our campsite and at times had us wondering if a tent was enough protection!

The desert allowed me to take a moment and realize what I still had. I had lost mom, but I still had her love. I still had life within me, even if it seemed small or hard to see, like life in the desert. I saw God there, in that place where no one chooses to stay- the place that is hard life and where one really works just to stay alive. Once the distractions of the world were stripped away, I was clearly able to see the power and majesty of God- and to be comforted.

The sparse life is not the same as no life. Instead, it is abundance on a different scale. A scale where we are able to see each and every thing in clarity. And most importantly, where we can begin to appreciate the abundance of the future. The wilderness is not barren. God is there. And if you are in the wilderness, God is with you. It is the place we go when we need to meet with God and see God clearly. A place where God meets us, as we pare back the lush distraction and instead get to the essence of who we are.

It feels like we have been in the desert a long time, as we enter the 9th month of our pandemic. Do not rush to leave the desert. We are here for a while yet. And your choice is to sit in the tent and not notice the world, or to see and celebrate the evidence of God around us in the simplicity. I pray you will choose to Meet me in the desert. God is there.

Author: mistressofdivinity

Pastor of Hope Lutheran Church in Riverside, California; a congregation of the Pacifica Synod in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA). Even though the diploma reads "Master of Divinity," the learning continues and I have the wrong body parts to earn a "masters" so I claim Mistress. I lean into this pastoral role more each day, learning to balance vocation and family, life and passion, living and loving.

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