Congratulations: People of Jesus Our Shepherd! You have been invited by God to go into the Desert yet another time. This means that you have grown in holiness over the year to enter the desert again to cleanse yourself from sin and to find out what God is calling you to do for the next year. Abundance, abundance and more abundance God is wished for you and for me as we seek out mercy for ourselves and others. No need to be afraid because God is with us and helping us find our path to holiness and to find out how this path will impact others.
I could get terrorized thinking that I will be walking down a path and there is desert around me, behind me, and within me. I ask: How can a loving God inflict such worry when I do not want to enter this desert of darkness and emptiness because I do not know where I might be going.
It is God who brought us to this spot, but we do not have to enter. This wonderful God of ours gives us a free choice to enter or to start growing in holiness and wonder. We have choices to make.
If I choose to enter this desert, I slowly sit down and quiet myself. I close my eyes and practice breathing. My heart slows and then the messages begin to come. Others come into the desert with a list of questions or a list of things they are repentant about. Others may ask God for directions on the right ways to go because the desert can be a scary task.
A way of knowing if we have to set the direction different is to ask this important question. Does my way out of this desert help, encourage, and feed, the people who are disadvantaged in body, mind, and spirit? Then this is the way to start moving. Many people do not have the choice to enter a strange desert land because they are working as hard as they can to just survive. They are constantly in fear for their safety, loneliness, freezing in the cold and real fear of starvation.
Do we to think of serious issues all of the time when we are in the desert? I do not think so. There should be times to build sandcastles and dig in the sand. There should be times when we think about the gifts of goodness’s that God has given us and will be giving us. There will be times when we can let the brightness and warmth of God surround us and heal us. There will be times when we can ask God for forgiveness when we have acted in ways that have been selfish and uncaring.
I do not have to convince anyone here that times in the wilderness and desert can be challenging. How do we handle these challenges? What is the difference between challenges and temptations? “Our challenge is to stand firm on our convictions and remain true to our values”.
I have brought in a large bowl of sand to remind ourselves that we should always enter the desert of our soul throughout the year. I will offer each the sand and ask you to put some in your pants pocket, purse, or jacket pocket. Leave the sand in there to remind you during the year to reenter the desert when you feel God’s call. She might want to speak to you.