If I have written of the desert lately, it’s because I live in one. I daily view rough, rocky, brown mountains rising up all around me from the valley floor. As I said previously, there’s a somber splendor to it, a peacefulness.
Yet it can be as foreign as Mars.
I’ve seen the pictures beamed back across millions of miles of space, and thought “Wow! Mars looks a lot like Arizona.” And it does. Desert and dust as far as the eye can see.
I didn’t choose to live on Mars–that choice was made for me. Thirty five years ago, my dad was transferred here–so we moved. I can’t regret it. I subsequently met, and married, a wonderful woman, had two wonderful children, forged a career.
My home is here.
But here is not where I want to always be. I want to take my family on adventure: “further up, and further in” as Lewis says in Narnia. I don’t know what form it will take, but I do know this:
It begins with a closer walk with God.
Because if grace is an ocean, I want more than the Sea of Tranquillity. Sure, I want peace–but may it be in my heart while I’m fighting for something larger than me.
Because I’ve learned something from my sojourn in the desert:
Peace isn’t an absence, but a presence, or rather the Presence: Jesus. Those of you who are married know that there can be a cessation of overt hostility, but very little peace in a home.
The same is true in the world:
Peace isn’t the absence of open conflict, but the presence, the Person, of Christ.
Make no mistake: we will have conflict as long as we sojourn here, in this place the Bible calls the “vail of tears.” As Aragon says to Theoden in The Two Towers: “Open war is upon you, whether you would risk it, or not.”
But He–Jesus–offers something invaluable:
An ocean of mercy in the midst of our desert places, and a sea of grace for the battles we face. “My grace is sufficient,” he says. Do we live like it? Are we running missions mere yards from the gates of Hell?
Are you hearing the ocean’s call today? What is it saying to you?