Often on this blog I recommend that people listen to a sermon that Dan has preached on the previous Sunday, and this is no exception. Go to www.amarillocentral.org and you can download it. He concluded a summer series on prayer based very loosely on Philip Yancy's book called Prayer. Part of what was so striking for me personally is that I had spent the entire weekend talking to a good friend about the process of going through the desert and how we live as Kingdom people while in the dry places. The Holy Spirit was faithful to take those conversations and then allow God to speak a word into that situation through Dan on Sunday. Amazing.
But, in addition to that as a hearer this sermon was brilliantly constructed. Genius really. There were layers and layers. The basic message and then underlying thoughts that you could take hold of and chew on for days. I am chewing.
I wanted to share a few of the thoughts that I am contemplating since hearing this message.
1.The spiritual desert is the reality of our faith journey. Moses, Abraham, Nehemiah, Jeremiah, Isaiah, David, Jesus - they had them. Times in the desert where faith and obedience are hard. St. John of the Cross wrote Dark Night of the Soul from the desert. Theresa of Avila, Mother Theresa, Bonhoeffer - all of those inspirations from our history had their faith formed and reformed by walking through the desert.
2.God does not wait to do his work in us while we are on the Mountaintop. Some of His best work is done in the desert.
3.Our responses to God can not depend on the emotion we feel toward Him.
4.And thus, a life lived out of solid engagement with the spiritual practices will be what sustains us. Praying when we don't feel like it. Sitting with God waiting when we would rather be taking action. Listening instead of speaking.
5.Control has to be surrendered to live like this. Courage and risk are required to allow God to work in us during these times knowing that the process and not the end result is really the prize.
6.Living out the tension of doubt and faith, fear and hope, pain and joy, exhaustion and renewal, surrender and empowerment is where we spend the majority of our lives if we are serious about discipleship.
And so I can sing with new and renewed courage, "when the darkness closes in Lord, still I will say Blessed Be The Name of the Lord."