On this day, I found myself halfway through the 40 days of Lent. I realized that visiting a different chapel each day--for 40 days--was harder than I had anticipated. That's mostly because few churches are open during the weekdays. So, I do what any former TV news anchor becomes adept at doing... I ad lib. In this case, I revisit chapels and sanctuaries that are special to me..
One of my favorites is this one- the sanctuary of First United Methodist Church in downtown Pensacola. Its beauty, its peaceful atmosphere and its history put within my spirit a sense of calm. I truly feel God's presence when I enter this sanctuary. It doesn't matter if it is packed to the balcony with worshipers on a Sunday morning, or if I am the only one here.
God is here, too.
The Lenten season causes us to recall the 40 days that Jesus was in the wilderness...going without food and water...without any human companionship.... being tempted... and tried.
In this mid-point of Lent, I find myself crossing paths with a lot of people who are in that wilderness season of their own life. It's not a happy place, frankly. They describe it with words like: dry, sad, hurtful and lonely.
I've used words for my living more than half of my life. But, I've been having trouble coming up with words to say in these conversations. So, I turned to the Source for words. What I found gave me renewed hope halfway through this wilderness season. Perhaps they will give you hope, too. You see, while the wilderness can be a lonely, scary place, it can also be the very place where (like the sanctuary at FUMC for me) God comes to meet you. It's happened before.
When she was hurting the most, Hagar saw God in the wilderness. (Gen.16 & 21)
When he was afraid, Jacob saw God in the wilderness. (Gen. 32)
When he was confused and separated from his family, Moses saw God in the wilderness. (Gen. 3)
When he was on a lonely mission, John the Baptist saw God in the wilderness. (Matt 1 & Mark 1)
Is it possible that sometimes... not all the time... but sometimes, we have to be in the stillness of the wilderness to see God? I don't know. I wish I did. Maybe someday I will know the answer to that... maybe we all will.
In the meantime, I take comfort in the last verse about 'the tempation' as recorded in Matthew. Chapter 4, verse 11. When the wilderness experience was over, "angels came and ministered to him."
I'm no angel.. anyone who knows me will tell you that! But, I do hope that some of what I write may 'minister' to you if you are in a wilderness season. Just remember...when you least expect it, God may show up. How cool is that? And also remember that this season is not meant to last forever.