From the pulpit: Desert walk can lead to discovery

Often, the season of Lent is described as a time spent in the desert. Perhaps not many of us have spent considerable time in the desert; however, our minds don&8217;t hesitate to quickly create the image of desert life.

We imagine that life lived in the desert would be lonely, hard, uncomfortable and distant in some way from the caring hand of God. The desert, we imagine, is brutal and unforgiving. I like the image of the desert for Lent.

It is a proper reminder of the discipline that we should embrace as we try to understand God&8217;s activity in our lives.

Like the desert is uncomfortable, so, too, is the discipline of repentance. It is hardly ever easy for humans to admit the life they are living needs to turn. Especially, when that turning may well bring about some personal discomfort.

Our tendency is to turn toward a way of life that is easier for us, more palatable for us, more profitable for us, more advantageous for us. That tendency is in conversation with the Holy Spirit of God which is drawing us to turn more toward God than toward ourselves. And that conversation creates tension.

Or, the more correct theological term, conviction. We consider the turning from ourselves toward God as desert time. Hard time. Uncomfortable time.

We struggle to come to terms with the fact that God has ultimate control over life and that we are called to submit to God. What we find out is the more we struggle against God, the more we try to keep from taking a desert journey of repentance, the more likely we are to find ourselves in the desert.

Continued refusal on our part to repent and live lives committed to God&8217;s way is dangerous. We could find ourselves separated from God. And, when we are separated from God&8217;s direction, we stumble along, unfocused and wandering, like we imagine desert life to be.

Life doesn&8217;t have to be like that, and the desert doesn&8217;t have to frighten us. The desert can be a time of discovery and restoration. Repentance is key.

When we find ourselves feeling distant and separated, it might be that God is calling us, reminding us of how contrary to God&8217;s desire distance and separation are.

God may be calling us out of the desert, showing us that as we repent and turn toward God, life begins to make more sense. Ultimately, God shows us that on Easter.

Where hope is proclaimed and joy is made real through the resurrection. That&8217;s the gift that waits for us across, on the other side of life&8217;s desert. It&8217;s a trip worth taking.

Mark Davenport is the pastor at the First Presbyterian Church in Alabaster.