As a city kid with limited experience of the desert (one brief, quite comfortable sojourn in the ‘wilderness’ of modern Israel, and it rained the day we visited Jericho) I admit that I need help to understand it as a metaphor for the isolated, arid, testing times in our experience as Christians. This second brief post on the theme of our desert experiences also comes from J. I. Packer…
J. I. Packer shares five values that God highlighted for him during years of ‘desert’ experience…
- Goodwill. I should not get bitter or lapse into self-pity or spend any time complaining and angling for sympathy. God was using my ministry, and I was forbidden to get fixated on my frustrations.
- Hope. I was not to become cynical or apathetic about the vision I had been given or to abandon it because there was no immediate way of advancing it. God is never in a hurry, and waiting in hope is a biblical discipline.
- Faithfulness. As a husband, father, teacher, honorary assistant clergyman, and occasional author, I had plenty each day to get on with, and I could not honor God by slackness and negligence, whatever discontents I was carrying around inside me.
- Compassion. Clearly I was being taught to empathize more deeply with the many Christians, lay and ordained, male and female, who live with various kinds of disappointments, and thus were in the same boat as myself.
- Humility. I must never forget that God is supreme and important and I am neither, and he can manage very well without me whenever He chooses to do so.
From J. I. Packer in The Desert Experience