I am in the desert. Spiritually, I am not doing well. At least in the sense that I am not feeling God's presence. I still pray in my prayer closet which is an empty space under the stairs in my home, but not as much. I still worship in our churches. I still give. I still try to do acts of love. But inside I am feeling the ache of emptiness.
And all of this is actually a good thing. In church culture we all too often create an environment where very real human experiences like loneliness, emotional distance from our spouses, and lack of connection with God cannot be shared. So we force a smile and pretend that everything is okay. Do you ever wonder how many broken lives in our churches lie just behind the smiles we see on Sunday mornings?
And then there is the pressure pastors feel to have it all together for their congregations. Surely, everyone expects their superintendent to be spiritually together! Well, I'm not! People still ask me how I like my job. I always hesitate because I am weighing which answer to give them. The one they likely want to hear, that it is all going very well. Or the one that is honest and doesn't lend itself very well to moving on to the next topic of conversation.
Ash Wednesday is a great time to acknowledge before my spiritual community that I am in the desert. As the Psalmist says, "It is a dry and weary place where there is no water." Lent is a time for all of us to come out of the shadows of a pretend spiritual life.
Last week I was holding my granddaughter, Isabella. Here is a child of God who does not yet know that she is loved by her grandpa. She even cries while in my arms, seemingly unhappy to experience my love. But there will come a day when Isabella will know in her heart that Grandpa loves her.
So it is that I hold onto the promise of God that one day I will feel the breath of God in my soul. Until then I walk by faith. I walk in the desert. And it is all good.
Grace and peace,