goodnight

Sometimes I think about the privileged ones in God’s story. The ones called out into the desert, like Abraham, Moses, even Jesus. The desert was brutal. Not a place or an experience they would have chosen.

It was also beautiful. They met angels there. They met God himself there.

There are others, too. Like Hagar. Hagar knew desolation in the desert, but it was also there that she discovered the intimacy and the peace of being seen. “You are the God who sees me,” she said. “I have now seen the One who sees me.”

To follow God into the desert is to turn your back on ordinary life. To trade comfort for something much harder and much better.

I know this, but why do I also know that I don’t want to hear that call? Shouldn’t I be willing not only to follow but to run toward the God of the desert?

I’ve had these lyrics bubbling up in my mind for days:

When we were young

We walked where we wanted to

Life was ours

And now we’re old

We go where we’re told

The Lord’s Spirit calls

He’s singing

Follow my road to sorrow and joy.

(from “Desert Father” by Josh Garrels)

We left Chicago two years ago to follow that singing voice into the desert. I hoped for joy, but found, mostly, sorrow.

I’m not sure I would have followed had I known.

I’m glad I didn’t know, because we never do look far enough ahead.

I would have seen loss. I would have seen loneliness, and I would have stopped looking, turned my back, and walked the other way. I’m sure of it.

I would have turned my back on the road that would carry me through the loss, through the loneliness and toward …

Another daughter. A gift and a blessing I was sure would never be mine. I was sure, and I was wrong.

Now I pray, with hope and joy, the final words of “Desert Father.” I pray them for myself. I pray them for you:

Hold on

All you

Who wait by the blue shores

For him

To part the water

Desert Father

Show us a new way

The impossible dream

Through the deep and the unseen

Carry us home.

 

Maplehurst

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