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The Beauty of Desolation

As I sat in the quiet, preparing to be in God's presence, asking Him to lead me there, I realized how distracted I am. The one game I play notifies my phone when I haven't been on in a while (usually about 10-20 minutes or so...), I went to check the verse of the day for a group I'm leading in a year-long, through the Bible study and then post in said group, then got distracted in social media. Eventually, I uninstalled the game, shut off social media and threw my phone across the room (it landed on the couch, by design, because I'm not bold enough to smash this idol, yet). I've come to a great realization: the quiet bothers me. I'm always playing music, playing some game, having something on TV, whatever it takes to keep my mind active. Why? Because, like so many others, I often don't like what I hear when my mind is quiet. I subconsciously try to tune out the still small voice (sorry Jiminy Cricket, it's not my conscience, but the Holy Spirit) because I want to be okay just the way I am. I don't want to be corrected, changed, and transformed, if I'm honest. The Spiritual me is at war with the natural me, and I give the natural me all the advantages it can take.

I'm disgusted by this! As I read the scriptures, especially the Gospels, I think I am beginning to understand the reason Jesus often would go to a desolate place to pray. There's beauty in desolation. There's no distraction, no people (no bars on my cell phone), no toil but the toil of being in the Presence of God alone. We often miss that point, don't we? We have free time, we must fill it, we have free space, we must occupy it, we have quiet, we must pollute it with noise. Yet there is beauty in desolation: the quiet place where we seek God free of distraction. It is where I'm learning to cry out "Lord, lead me in to your presence; without you, I don't know the way." It is time to turn off the phones, TVs, computers, radios, and other distractions, and sit and be with God, in the quiet and calm of His presence, and then in the word. There we will hear His voice clearly, and there He will quiet our soul. Psalm 23

The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.

You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the LORD forever. John 10:1-18 “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who does not enter the sheepfold by the door but climbs in by another way, that man is a thief and a robber. But he who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. To him the gatekeeper opens. The sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes before them, and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice. A stranger they will not follow, but they will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers.” This figure of speech Jesus used with them, but they did not understand what he was saying to them.

So Jesus again said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. All who came before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them. I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. He who is a hired hand and not a shepherd, who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees, and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. He flees because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep. I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep. And I have other sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd. For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life that I may take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This charge I have received from my Father.”

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