The Desert Is Blooming (Newsletter)

        The French, Christian philosopher Jacques Ellul wrote: “The desert is the place where human powers must be renounced. In the desert there can be no more trickery, no illusions as to getting out by one’s own means, no possibility of placing hope in natural sources of help.”

         I have never experienced a physical desert. However, as a member of a faith tradition for whom the metaphor of desert is anything but lifeless, I do make the audacious claim to have some knowledge of the challenges of desert life.

         In spending time with the Ellul quotation, I began to hear him suggesting that while a desert may at first appear harsh and unforgiving, it may actually be a place of limitless grace and powerful redemption. The desert is that place in life where we depend upon the grace of God because there is nothing left to trust. In our spiritual deserts, neither cleverness, nor wisdom, nor willful determination will feed and water us. Faith alone connects us with the mysterious and liberating Strength which lies both beyond and within us.

         Deserts of all kinds clutter our paths, and they all point to the same immutable reality: Change.

         Some years ago, singer/songwriter David Lamotte wrote a song called “Keep the Change.” The inspiration for it came when he heard his brother-in-law say, “Change is optional—so long as dying is a choice.” Like death and taxes, change is a given in life. It puts us in new places with new people, new surroundings, and new rules. We can no more escape change than we can escape God’s love.

         We have no choice about change, but before we can accept and celebrate the new, we slog through the desert, the place where we grieve the loss of all that felt familiar and comfortable. I don’t think God creates desert experiences, but I do think that God uses these exhausting passages to purge us of arrogance, pride, illusions of self-sufficiency, and to remind us that we are not God. Through such grace, each God-tended crossing delivers us to newer and fuller life.

         “The desert shall rejoice and blossom;

         like the crocus it shall blossom abundantly,

                  and rejoice with joy and singing.”

                                                      (Isaiah 35:1-2)

2 thoughts on “The Desert Is Blooming (Newsletter)

  1. Sounds like you answered one of your previous email questions. And maybe one of mine.

    M

    On Wed, Oct 30, 2019 at 8:35 AM Jabbok in the Foothills wrote:

    > allenhuff posted: ” The French, Christian philosopher Jacques Ellul > wrote: “The desert is the place where human powers must be renounced. In > the desert there can be no more trickery, no illusions as to getting out by > one’s own means, no possibility of placing hope in” >

    Liked by 1 person

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