Come to the Wilderness

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December 2, 2019

Mark 1:1-5 (NLT)

This is the Good News about Jesus the Messiah, the Son of God. It began just as the prophet Isaiah had written:

“Look, I am sending my messenger ahead of you,
and he will prepare your way.
He is a voice shouting in the wilderness,
‘Prepare the way for the Lord’s coming!
Clear the road for him!’”

This messenger was John the Baptist. He was in the wilderness and preached that people should be baptized to show that they had repented of their sins and turned to God to be forgiven. All of Judea, including all the people of Jerusalem, went out to see and hear John. And when they confessed their sins, he baptized them in the Jordan River.

CONSIDER THIS

A passionate voice rings out through the cavernous wilderness. It flows upon the wind and finds its way into the busy streets of Jerusalem and the surrounding towns of Judea where the people of God live. The voice is reverberating from the wild man in the desert; the one who dresses like the prophets of old, shouting the message he’s heard from the Spirit who leaps inside his chest.

Come, come out to the wilderness!
Prepare your hearts for the Lord’s appearing,
for He comes even now,
walking on the sand,
trailing glory!

John’s call still reverberates among us today.

The Spirit is still speaking through his words, calling us to retreat into the wilderness during this Advent season. The Spirit cries for us to come away, to turn toward the desert, and to enter into our personal meeting place with God.

Advent beautifully reminds us to expect Jesus’ coming here, now, at this very hour.

So we retreat into the wilderness to prepare our hearts for his coming.

Just like the people of God who lived when Jesus first appeared in the sand, we leave our assumed routines of life in the city and we run to the desert. We bring along whatever baggage we’re carrying and we run. We go rejoicing and leaping, weeping and crying, limping and crawling. We bring with us all that we have and all that we are, trusting that the God who breathes life into all things will meet us here.

He’s ready to yet again turn our lives upside down, to clear out the temples of our souls where money-changers and other riff raff have made their way in, to meet us as we are, skeptical, wounded, traumatized as we may be, and to give us kingdom work to do as he leads us further into His way of being.

There are so many times when I enter the wilderness believing that this time God will fail to appear. I sit in the sand on the side of the road, waiting without expectation. Time passes, storms come and go, and I get used to thinking that I’m alone.

Then out of the corner of my eye a figure emerges, at first like a mirage.

I can explain it away and choose not to look, but if I raise up my head, I recognize him.

Suddenly, my wilderness becomes the tabernacle of God.

During this Advent season, let us dare to retreat into the wilderness again, bringing all that we have accumulated this year, leaving nothing behind out of embarrassment or shame.

None of us are disqualified, there is no mess we’re in that is too complicated, there is no busyness or depression or self-condemnation that can shut us out from the wild place of meeting with God. We can go to the wilderness anytime and anywhere because our wilderness is deep inside of us. We can retreat to our meeting place with God on a bus or in a grocery aisle or when we can’t sleep at 2 a.m.

Advent means God is here, now, this moment.

The Spirit is always calling us into our deep, wild place.

We can go believing or unbelieving.

God will be faithful to meet us either way.

Let us retreat into the wilderness and wait for the surprise of God. Who knows how he will appear or what he will say. But in the place we least expected, in the desert where we thought we were alone, he will come.

Prepare the way of the Lord.

God is here.

THE PRAYER

Oh God, my heart has heard you say, “Come and talk with me.”
And my heart responds, “Lord, I am coming.”
Lord, I am coming.
Lord, I am here.
Spirit of God, breathe upon me.
(adapted from Psalm 27:8 NLT)

THE QUESTION

  • How might you retreat into the wilderness with God during this season? Even in simple, small ways, what might this look like for you?
  • What might keep you from entering your personal meeting place with God?
  • Take a minute to reflect on the reality that God is here. What does that truth mean for your life today?

Casey Culbreth

Song for Meditation:

Closer by Matt Gilman
Spotify Playlist for Advent Daily Text

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Casey Page Culbreth is a worship pastor at Grace Church in Cape Coral, Florida. She loves exploring different countries, gardening, hanging out at bookstores and movie theaters, and enjoying coffee with friends. You can follow Casey on Instagram @caseypageculbreth, visit her blog at ByCloudandFire.com, or learn about her worship ministry at caseypage.com.

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