Find Life in Surprising Places
Janne Grover, Council of Twelve Apostles
I am about to do a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert. -Isaiah 43:19
The wilderness can feel like a threatening place. Perhaps we equate the wilderness with testing, uncertainty, and suffering. Scripture testifies of this through the journey of Israel and the story of Jesus. The Israelites’ liberation from oppression and slavery led them to years of testing, uncertainty, and suffering in the wilderness. Following sacrament of water and spirit, Jesus was led into the wilderness for long days of personal trial and suffering. We find wilderness testing in our own journey as individuals and as community. The challenges before the church can feel like a wilderness of testing and uncertainty as we see once-thriving congregations decline and close. It is easy to be consumed by hopelessness and despair when overwhelmed by wilderness circumstances beyond our control.
The wilderness is also a place of formation, revelation, and new life. The Israelites received unexpected manna to satisfy their hunger and water from a stone to quench their thirst. Jesus’ experience in the wilderness formed in him a deeper awareness of divine purpose and strength. Could our wilderness journey be any different?
Perhaps our deepest longing is met when we choose to see the blessings that come through the wilderness journey. What appears stark and desolate also reveals clarity of what matters most. The wilderness becomes a place of new life as we peel back layers of assumptions, traditions, expectations, and cluttered ways of being to discover what we seek, what we long for, is right before us. What we need, we already have.
In his 2017 address “Time to Act!” President Veazey challenged the church to birth, nurture, and multiply communities of disciples and seekers focused on spiritual formation and compassionate ministry and action. Rather than viewing this challenge through a lens of what is, he stated, “Such communities of disciples and seekers can gather anywhere, any time. While some may choose to do so, they are not dependent on owning buildings or property. They will be connected locally and globally. They will be salt, leaven, and light.” Salt, leaven, and light; that is what captures me the most. It is not something new or unattainable…it is already present in us.
Perhaps this is the wilderness clarity of what matters most. God’s vision of shalom, the peaceable kin-dom, the Zion of our hopes and dreams, does not rely on buildings, programs, or organizational structure. It relies on individuals and communities authentically living Christ’s peace in the world. It is realized when those who claim the name and mission of Christ respond to the needs of a suffering world in ways that are life-giving and world changing. Stones release streams of living water through every faithful act of kindness and generosity that affirms the worth of persons, honors the sacredness of creation, and pursues just peace.
The invitation in this wilderness journey…for individuals and communities…is to travel lighter, to shed attachments enough to see with clarity the pathway already set before us, to focus on what matters most…and discover new life in surprising ways.
Are we moving toward Jesus, the peaceful One?
Lenten Spiritual Practices
Moving Toward the Peaceful One
As Jesus was nearing the final days of his life, he wept over the city and proclaimed, “If you, even you, had only recognized on this day the things that make for peace” (Luke 19:41-42).What are the things that make for peace in our lives, communities, and around the world? During the Lenten season, spend time in silent refection or journaling each day to notice: Am I moving toward Jesus, the peaceful One? Pay attention to your attitudes, actions, and relationships this day. When did you most embody the peaceful One in your daily living? When were your thoughts or actions contrary to the peace of Jesus Christ? How might Jesus, the peaceful One, who is always near to you, be inviting you to draw nearer to him through your daily living?
Fasting and Giving-$40 in 40 Days
A Lenten fast gives us an opportunity to make space in our lives so that God can live in and through us. It’s a time to evaluate what we hunger for most and what we consume. This year, we’ve been invited to tithe as a spiritual practice by setting aside $40 during the 40 days of Lent. If you are participating, pay attention today to the dollar you have given. What might you have done with that dollar otherwise? How does Lenten generosity invite you to reflect on what is “enough” in your life? Who might you invite to join you in this practice? How might your gift be magnified by the many others responding to the same call?
You can make your $40 offering anytime during the Lenten season online or through your offering envelope for Worldwide Mission Tithes.
Today’s Prayer for Peace
Engage in a daily practice of praying for peace in our world. Click here to read today’s prayer and be part of this practice of peace.