Thursday, October 7, 2010

Homily 14: On the Wilderness and Faith (as preached by an orthodox rebel)

"To Him who led His people through the wilderness...." Ps. 136:16a

The wilderness is not a fun place to be. It is the strenuous and expansive dry patch between the explosive bookends of the Exodus and the Promised Land. There are no  obvious mountaintop experiences; just meat and manna at the moments of crisis and unbelief. Patience will dry up like waters in the desert. A terrible restlessness and fear will strive to shake your soul apart: perhaps God made a mistake? Perhaps we should have stayed in Egypt: better to be in a stagnant stability than this howling emptiness. Therein lies the many dangers, toils, and snares. You are beset on every side by strange fire and foreign mistresses, tempting you with false hopes and homes. The vision of the Promised Land, so clear at one point, now feels like it was a generation ago. You're not even sure what you're doing anymore, and you are afraid. No, the wilderness is not a fun place.

It is also, however, an inevitable and necessary place. No high and holy vision or calling of faith comes without the suffering of its birth, and that suffering will always entail the testing of that faith. God will see your calling come to fruition, but only after you learn to fully let go and trust in Him, learn that things are only done by Him (Zech. 4:6), you can do nothing without Him (John 15:5), and it is He that will complete the work (Phil. 1:6). You cannot face the Promised Land with all its wars until you firmly stand upon the solid truth that says, "God is God and I am not." If you cannot trust God in the wilderness, then where can you trust Him? Certainly not when the pressure is on and the crises culminate into climax. We must let the wilderness take its toll. We are not fit for the future until we do.

-Jon Vowell (c) 2010


  1. I think it's important that in Hosea 2:14, the Lord says of His bride, "Therefore I am now going to allure her; I will lead her into the desert and speak tenderly to her." He also used 40 years in the desert to make His children into His disciples (Hebrews 12).

    God's most intimate relationships do their greatest work in the desert.