Sunday, February 15, 2009

Some Thoughts From Joshua Tree

Well, as you could tell from the fact I blogged on Friday, I emerged from the desert. I'm back in West Virginia after experiencing five days of solitude to focus on prayer, fasting, and listening for God in the middle of the Mojave Desert in Joshua Tree National Park.

There are quite a few stories I feel like I could tell about my experience but the one that lies in the forefront has a beginning before I entered solitude. My buddy John Hancox recommended a sermon by a guy named Paris Reidhead. It's an interesting name for a person, and a very compelling sermon called "Ten Shekels and a Shirt". You can download, listen to, or read the sermon from this site.

During the sermon a story was told about two Moravian missionaries who sold themselves into slavery to be able to share the gospel with slaves on a remote island in the caribbean. After they had sold themselves to the athiest slave-owner, they were shipped to the island. As they left family and friends, they yelled from the deck of the ship, "May the Lamb who was slain receive the reward of His suffering!" Or as I had paraphrased it during my time in the desert, "May the Lamb who was slain receive the glory He is due!"

While I wandered in solitude, I prayed two prayers to help me stay centered on Christ. That statement was one of them. The other one was simply this. "Lord Jesus Christ be merciful to me, a sinner." Now some would say that neither of these are necessary prayers because God by nature is merciful, and He will receive glory. But sometimes prayer is less necessary for God and more necessary for us to be changed. God moves through prayer, and He changes our circumstances at times. At other times, He changes us.

Over my days He changed me. You see, I got sick early in the afternoon on February 6th, and didn't stop vomiting until around 1PM on February 11. Before you start feeling bad for me, understand that God used that illness to teach me great things about Him and His mercy, and about me and my own darkness.

You see, there was a point at which I was a little frustrated by my sickness. I was frustrated because I didn't go to the desert to be sick--I went to the desert to connect with God. I went to the desert to grow spiritually, and to be better equipped to help others grow closer to Jesus. I had a certain idea of what that would look like. I think God had a different idea.

During my time of sickness, I realized how merciful God was toward me. He knows how dark my heart is (He also knows about your's too!), and in spite of that, because I am His creation, He was willing to do whatever it took for me to be reconciled to Him. I deserve so much worse than a few days of sickness. We all do, when we consider ourselves in contrast to the Holiness of God Almighty.

So as I lay there receiving mercy, I found myself crying out silently from my mind, "May the Lamb who was slain receive the glory He is due!"

I know we all have difficulties come our way, that leave us wondering "where is God in the middle of this?" But I am also confident of this as well, these present difficulties pale in comparison to the surpassing mercy that God shows us moment by moment.

May you experience freshly the mercy of the Lamb who was slain, and enjoy God for the immensity of His worth!

1 comment:

Pam Swope said...

Whoa! That's a heavy story. Hope you're better now.