Friday, January 25, 2008

Into the Wilderness

Into the Wilderness, originally uploaded by chanchanchepon.

It seems like everywhere we go, people are in a hurry. I took this photo Tuesday afternoon in Chicago’s O-Hare Airport. It struck me because not only are people in a hurry, these folks are trusting in moving sidewalks to get them from point A to point B even faster. There were literally thousands of people in this airport as I scurried from one gate to the other to continue my journey. I was in a hurry too—my flight had just been changed and I had to proceed from one end of the airport to make my flight.

So why was I in this hurried crowd in the airport? On Tuesday, I flew traveled from Morgantown to Pittsburgh to Chicago and then to Los Angeles to make final preparations for a wilderness retreat I am doing with a handful of staff from around the country who are involved with GCM.

The goal of the program is to for staff to experience a period, of solitude, silence, simplicity, fasting, and prayer in order to connect freshly with God. Once I enter the desert I will set up a camp and will not see or hear any other staff until it is time for me to leave next week. The director of the program has said that people either spend an extended time in the presence of God or go through an intense struggle as they realize their own inner emptiness. Most people experience a combination of both. What a time of clarity and direction—no wonder Jesus went to the desert before starting his ministry on earth!

Of course this means I probably won’t be answering my cell phone, or responding to emails, or blogging for that matter, but I plan to return to blogging when I re-enter society. So, while I won’t be able to blog for a while, don’t lose hope—I’ll be back in a week or so. In the meantime, I’ll tell you something you can do. You can pray for me as I venture out into the wilderness. This morning I was reading in the gospels about how Jesus, when he began his ministry, went out into the desert for 40 days to fast. I’m not Jesus, and I’m not going for forty days. But just the same, I have a feeling that there are spiritual forces that would love more than anything to distract me from connecting with the Creator of the universe. With that in mind, pray for my health and safety as well as for my time with God. I want to tear away any distraction in my life to hear Him clearly.

I think this will be one of the most challenging and rewarding experiences of my life. It is with awe and trepidation that I make my final preparations, and it is with an expectant and humble heart I enter the wilderness.

Only God knows what lies ahead . . .

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