Can God really spread a table in the wilderness? 

I’ve been thinking a lot during this season of Advent. I’ve also been on a journey, I’m not quite sure what that journey is, I think that a large part of it is a wrestling of my own self doubt. A line of questioning that began with the completion of my BAP forms. I think those forms have some sort of mystical powers, or questions that stir up all sorts of feelings, doubts, and confusion. It’s been a real sense of being in the wilderness since I filled and sent them off. 

Why do I feel so alone? Yet I don’t feel alone? Why do I feel like I don’t belong anywhere? But yet I know I belong somewhere but not quite sure where that is. Why do I love church and then feel absolutely infuriated by it at the same time? 

I’ve been thinking about John the Baptist, and thinking about how part of his calling from God was to be in the wilderness permanently. I wonder what that must have felt like to John? Was he confused by his placing on the outskirts, or did he just know that his calling from God was worth so much more than feeling comfortable. Did John sit at night in his rough robes in the freezing cold, enjoying his honey and locust buffet, being one with nature, being one with everything that God’s hands had made with a smile on his face? I like to believe that he did have a deep love and joy for his calling, and how amazing he must have felt to fulfil it and baptise Jesus, the one he was paving the way for.

When I reflected on my past, compiling memories that I had to put in my form, I realised there was a pattern. A pattern of me feeling lonely as I was repeatedly pushed out from wherever I had been. I started to wonder whether this recurrent feeling of loneliness was because of my own failings to not feel content and accept where I was being placed. Had I thought about whether I was experiencing all these things because that is where God is placing me. But for what reason might I have to feel this way? The answer was pretty simple really which came to me in a reaccuring dream. Being put in uncomfortable situations where you can’t rely on your own ego, where you can’t rely on the affirmation of popularity, where you can’t rely on the praise of peers is exactly the place where you let go and let God take you by the hands and walk with you.

Maybe this is what John the Baptist realised in the wilderness, maybe he also experienced the caring and nurturing nature of God through his provision. John ate and drank off the land, God spread a table for him in the wilderness, he didn’t need others to keep him going and even in prison I’m sure that God was with him in those chains. By letting go of himself, John freed himself to serve, to Baptise, to motivate people to repent, to point the way to Christ. 

Is this what God is showing me? That I need to change the way I think about being in situations that push me away? That I need to remember that God has me by the hand. To remember that I leave my emotional neediness baggage at the feet of Jesus and keep walking forward secure in his plan and the calling he has for me.

This I believe I can do, and I think I’m doing it, and I hope and pray that I can pass this message of hope on to whoever I can serve, whoever I meet on the outskirts, in my future ministry.

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