June 28 Reflections

If you have ever experienced a desert you know that it is if often considered a dry, desolate, and barren place. It seems hard for life to dwell there, though there are plants and animals that are specially adapted to the extreme conditions. Deserts have a way of stripping everything away down to the essentials…like the need for water. Yet there is a beauty to deserts if one takes the time to look.

Moses ended up in a desert. For the better part of 40 years, Moses lived in a palace. While there he got the best education possible in that day. But he needed more education at God’s “university”-the desert. It is there removed from the limelight that he grew into a healthy, mature person able to know who he was and who he was not. Through obscurity, time, solitude, and pain Moses was being prepared to lead the children of Israel out of Egypt. So that at the age of 80 he came across a bush that did not burn and God spoke. Moses was ready to hear.

Silence and solitude were a regular part of the rhythm of the life of Jesus. Jesus would often pull away from others so that he could hear the voice of the Father more clearly. He stated in the Gospel of John that everything he did was what he heard from the Father. As a follower of Jesus, I must learn from him and do what he did. I need to slow down to listen to the still small voice of God and pay attention to his whispers. Teresa of Avila said, “Settle yourself in solitude and you will come upon Him in yourself.” This quote speaks to my heart. There is an old Christian tradition that we listen for the heartbeat of God within ourselves. Solitude…contemplation…silence is about getting quiet so we can hear the heartbeat of God.

By and large these words silence…solitude…contemplation scare people, especially in the United States where we have every communication possible available to us. Some fear the silence.  Others are afraid because they do not understand the importance of listening in the quiet. Listening to God but also listening to our own selves. I do believe that God speaks deep within each of us; God’s voice joins with my voice, and I can see things more clearly. Spending time alone helps me to define myself more clearly. I can get clear about who I am and how I want to live my life.  “I think it’s very healthy to spend time alone. You need to know how to be alone and not defined by another person.” Olivia Wilde.  In other words, we need contemplation to remember who we really are…children of the living God. It is so easy to forget that we are deeply loved and embraced by God.

We are going to think about this on Sunday as Moses spends forty years in the desert being honed and equipped to lead and how God shows up in an unusual way in the midst of the ordinary. Some passages to read and reflect on:

Exodus 3:1-10; 1 Corinthians1:26-31; Mark 6:30-32: 32; 1 Kings 19:11-12.

Grace upon Grace,

Pastor Verlyn