On Stewardship and the Orthodox Life - Part 72: Life’s Deserts

“…the word of God came to John the son of Zechariah in the wilderness.” (Luke 3:2 RSV)

Everyone, at one time or another, has a desert experience. What does that mean? It means that every one of us, at one time or another, goes through things in life that we seem to be able to handle only within us. It is like being in a desert.

A desert is a hostile environment: it is silent; it is lonely; it is barren. There is little food. There is no entertainment. The desert is, of course, deserted. There seems no one there but our own selves. When we find ourselves in our own kind of desert because of sadness, or loss, or illness, it seems we have only ourselves to face. We live day and night with our own thoughts.

Such a desert is a battleground ripe for the forces of evil. And they are hard at work. When, not by our own choice there is less to distract us, like TV, radio, internet, Facebook or Twitter – we must face down the forces of evil who zero in on our thoughts. We feel that we must face down these forces of evil on our own.

It was in the desert that St. John the Forerunner was formed for his mission. St. John, alone with only his own presence to keep him company, was given the task of preparing the world for the coming of Christ the world’s Savior. But, we are told, St. John the Forerunner was not alone: “…the word of God came to John the son of Zechariah in the wilderness.” The Word of God came! St. John was not truly alone in the desert.

It is at such times in our life when we are at a loss that we must remember that we are never alone. When the desert times close in on us and we are feeling the most alone, always present is the “Word of God” – Christ Jesus! God in Christ finds us in the desert at a time when we might least expect to be found, or even when we don’t want to be found. But there He is anyway.

Think of the others to whom God showed up in their deserts: Elias the Prophet, Moses and Aaron, Jeremiah the Prophet, and, of course our Lord Jesus Christ Himself. And what happened at those encounters with God in the desert? God formed the people he met. God formed them into the stewards that they all turned out to be.

It is a myth to think that only those who a well-off and comfortable can be good stewards. Everyone who has been gifted with life by God is a steward, a caretaker, of whatever God has provided for him or her – a little or a lot. All belongs to Him, including our own lives. Stewards are called to give back what is rightfully God’s.

This weekly series of brief thoughts on stewardship and Orthodox life is brought to you by your Diocesan Stewardship Commission.

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