If you ever get the chance to visit Israel I encourage you to do so. You cannot turn around there without bumping into Biblical history. Place after place holds fascination for the Christian and those inclined to love the Bible stories. You can find meaning and illumination in even the most desolate places there.
One of my favorite activities in Israel took place one day when our tour group was taken out into the Judean wilderness and dumped out of our bus. Our instructions were simple: go off somewhere alone (but stay within view of where the bus will drop you off) and be alone with God in the quiet.
I was not expecting the blessing that I encountered in that period of time that I sat atop a barren hill in the dry wilderness where Jesus was tempted and many other biblical stories took place.
What was it that made it so special? Partly it was the quietness. On occasion a birdsong could be heard, or a sheep bleating somewhere far, far away. But human sound was missing. You were alone with yourself and God.
Many times Jesus went off into the wilderness. One would wonder why: there’s no water, no trees from which to pick fruit, no company or protection from the elements or animals that might be there. So why? Why the wilderness?
I don’t recall who said this, but I think this is the key: “In the emptiness of the wilderness there is only one God.”
We don’t spend enough time in the wilderness these days. We are city dwellers rushing to and fro in non-stop motion. In the wilderness there is no place to go. And so we can unwind and tune our ear to the voice of God in the hot breeze.
Being in the wilderness, whether literally or figuratively as we struggle with life, is intended to help us hear God and spend time with him.
Perhaps you are surrounded by barren wilderness right now. Stop your movement. Sit in silence. Keep pulling your mind back from whatever is concerning you and keep asking God to speak to you right now. And don’t give up. Keep at it until you hear him – but listen closely because he often speaks to us in the nearly inaudible whisper he used with Elijah. Pay attention. If your mind drifts, refocus. God will be there and he wants to speak to you.
PRAYER: Lord, slow us down and take us to the wilderness where there is only one God so that we may hear from him. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Copyright 2021, Galen C. Dalrymple. ><}}}”>