Wilderness Thoughts

Desert Son

‘I will call them out into the desert

And speak tenderly to them there.’

So he goes, out into the dry place,

Away from the distractions,

To focus, to listen, to draw close.

‘I will call them out into the desert

And speak tenderly to them there.’

And so he goes… to shape his mission,

Not chasing fame or fortune,

Celebrity or point-scoring,

Facing down the pitfalls and people-traps.

‘I will call them out into the desert

And speak tenderly to them there.’

And so he goes, though it’s not easy,

A different champion, a humble hero,

Searching for the lost and the unloved,

For the disregarded and also-rans.

‘I will call them out into the desert

And speak tenderly to them there.’

This dusty saviour, this calloused carer,

This man from Nazareth,

This desert king of hearts.


Biblical Desert Moments

At a moment when

He is there in the limelight,

Everyone watching,

He steps away from the crowd,

Chooses time with his Father.

The desert beckons,

A place he’ll visit often,

To hear the tender

Voice of his Father and to

Refocus on what matters.

Hosea 2 v 14, Matthew 3 v 13 4 v 1


Biblical Desert Moments

Did the desert smile?

Rejoice when the living word

Moved in for a while.

Preparing himself to be

With us in all our deserts.

Giving us strength for

Our weaknesses and fears,

Saying, ‘Do not fear,

For your God is on your side,

Full of hope and compassion.’

Isaiah 35 v 1-4, Matthew 4 v 1


Biblical Desert Moments

The tempter offers

A pitiful meal of stones –

A pretence of bread,

Has no notion of the feast

Jesus shares with his father.

Later, because of

His time here in emptiness,

He will bring full life,

Living bread for the people,

Bread and wine for everyone.

Matthew 4 v 3-4, John 6 v 51


Biblical Desert Moments

Worshipping with his

Being and space and time, in

The ordinary

Moments, in each footstep and

Breath taken, sound and silence.

Offering himself

And the things he sees and does,

Not spectacular

Or grand or impressive, but

Each moment as it occurs.

Matthew 4 v 10, Psalm 103 v 1


Biblical Desert Moments

He would have known of

Hagar and her trust: ‘El Roi –

The God who sees me.’

The God who sees now looks on

All the kingdoms of this world…

‘All yours…’ the tempter

Tells him, not realising

That he already

Knows this but needs not grasp it

To posture or prove himself.

Genesis 16 v 13, Matthew 4 v 8-9


Biblical Desert Moments

Did the desert seem

Like the valley of dry bones

At times? Did he see

Lives waiting to be reborn,

So many waiting for life?

Or Noah’s fractured

World, waiting to be flooded,

Not with rainwater,

But with the refreshing drench

Of a resurrection restart.

Ezekiel 37, Genesis 8


Biblical Desert Moments

This once and future

King happy now to embrace

The dust he once called

Into being, under the

Sky he painted and fashioned.

Now making home the

Earth he shaped with gentle skill

And wide-eyed wonder,

Feeling the grit under his

Nails and the heat on his face.

Mark 1 v 12-13, John 1 v 1-3


Biblical Desert Moments

He’ll face down power,

Won’t play those games of ego.

Instead he’ll walk in

The way of humility,

Disarming and creative.

He will not look for

Easy roads or a way out.

Knows how hard this life can be.

Takes the narrow road

Of humanity and life,

Matthew 4 v 5-7, Luke 22 v 41-42


Biblical Desert Moments

Here he is, living

Out his message, the good news

That God is with us

Even in the dry places,

Even in the wilderness.

Well acquainted with

Struggle, longing and questions,

Rubbing shoulders with

Emptiness and temptations,

Walking hard paths, being helped.

Isaiah 53 v 3, Mark 1 v 12-13


Biblical Desert Moments

Bubbling up in him

As he walks those dusty paths:

Love, joy, peace, patience,

Goodness, kindness, faithfulness,

Gentleness and self-control.

Those fruits burgeoning,

Flourishing in that dry space,

An investment for

Future days of bringing hope,

Growing in him for others.

Galatians 4 v 22-23, Matthew 4


Biblical Desert Moments

He knows the Psalms well,

And right now number 46

Is everything to

Him, being still to tune in

To savour the quiet voice.

40 days is a

Long time to reflect for such

A man of action.

Stepping out of the traffic

Could have felt costly for him.

Psalm 46 v 10, Matthew 4


Biblical Desert Moments

I wonder about

His mental health in those days,

He opened himself

To all we are subject to,

So he may well have struggled.

He must know what it’s

Like to sail on anxious seas:

Not a superman,

But full of humanity,

And drenched in reality.

Hebrews 4 v 14-16


Biblical Desert Moments

Out there among the

Wild animals, facing threat

And fierce danger.

Predators with teeth,

Seeking to harm and hurt him.

He is preparing

Himself for the insults he

Will face, the questions

Raised by his life and message,

The lonely nights and hard days.

Mark 1 v 11-12, Luke 13 v 1-5


Biblical Desert Moments

Though there is much here

That is dry and empty, and

Seems all too lifeless,

Yet he’s here because of life,

He’s here storing resources.

He has not come to

Put down or belittle us,

Not cancel or

Condemn us, but to bring us

A new way of being us.

John 10 v 10-11, Luke 4 v 1


Biblical Desert Moments

Perhaps, as he now

Empties himself here in this

Desert, he is mak-

-ing way for the fullness of

God to expand within him.

So he can bring full

Life to all he meets down the

Ages. Knowing he

must fill a tomb with himself,

So he can break out of it.

John 10 v 10, Matthew 27 v 57-61


Biblical Desert Moments

All humankind can

Seem small, insignificant,

Just like grasshoppers…

Ants contriving our own worlds,

Mere cogs in a machine.

Yet he’s here now.

To show us we are more than

Specks of desert dust,

We’re known, unique and precious,

Part of a bigger picture.

Isaiah 40 v 22, Psalm 139


Biblical Desert Moments

Lead us to pools of

Living water in the dry

And dusty places

Of these days, please, we pray, Lord.

Strengthen us for this journey.

May we have eyes to

Spot the unexpected signs

Of life and colour,

Those flowers in the desert,

Refresh and inspire us, please.

Isaiah 35


Biblical Desert Moments

And so begins his

Twenty-four-seven mission,

Three years of sacrifice

And washing the feet of those

He’ll meet… friends and enemies.

In this stony ground

He prepares to offer a

Roadmap for switching

Stony hearts with brand new hearts,

Whole and responsive to God.

Jeremiah 24 v 7, Ezekiel 36 v 26


Biblical Desert Moments

We ache at times for

So much more, our days long, our

Nights even longer,

Like lost, dry-space wanderers,

Chasing life’s wind-blown litter.

Not easy to tell

Which voices that bombard us

Are inspiration,

And which are mere distraction,

How we need that desert Son.

Psalm 42, Ecclesiastes 1, John 3 v 16


Biblical Desert Moments

This age of self and

Individualism can

Lead us into sad

Corners and dry loneliness,

Needing a place of refuge.

Longing for a new

Roadmap to show us – where now?

A footprint in which

To place our own, a life of

Truth and kindness to follow.

Psalm 16


Biblical Desert Moments

These battles prepare

Him no doubt for future times

Of temptation and

Conflict, when even his friends

Will try to change his focus.

And investment too

For one dark garden night, when

All hell will attempt

To steer him away from the

Very reason he has come.

Matthew 16 v 21-23, Mark 14 v 32-42


Biblical Desert Moments

Did he know all that

These 40 days contain?

Was surprise and the

Unexpected, part of his

Time in that tumbleweed place?

Most likely, for he

Knew we would face the unknown,

Be called to take steps

Into uncertain places,

In our own tumbleweed lives.

Genesis 12 v 1, Psalm 139 v 9-10


Biblical Desert Moments

Did he see the prints

Of all those feet that would trek

Through their own deserts?

Catch sight of the pilgrims from

The past, and trudgers to come?

Deserts being a

Regular part of life for

Most people really.

The wilderness a routine

Detour for so many folk.

Acts 8 v 26-40, Exodus 7 v 16


Biblical Desert Moments

Had we met him out

There in the wilderness with

His dusty face and

Grit marked hands, we may well have

Passed him by, missed his glory.

We may pass him on

This day, as we make our way,

God with us in the

Ordinary grit and dust,

No fuss or fanfare, yet here.

John 1 v 9-10, Isaiah 53 v 2


Biblical Desert Moments

He quotes that famous

Line, ‘Man can’t live on bread alone…’

From that desert time

Of Manna – bread from heaven,

Food pointing to God’s presence.

Not only kneading

Bread from the earth, but also

Needing that other

Sustenance – the living word,

Light for our shadowed travels.

Deuteronomy 8 v 3, John 1 v 1-5, Matthew 4 v 4


Biblical Desert Moments

He could have turned those

Rocks to delicious fresh bread.

Could have grasped power

That desert day. And leapt

Into the arms of angels.

But had he done so,

He might well have beaten off all

The arresting guards,

Climbed off that cross, and never

Given himself for us all.

Luke 4 v 1-12,  Mark 14 v 36


Biblical Desert Moments

This desert life will

Be a watermark for him,

A daily anchor

As he seeks out quiet spots

To spend time with his father.

Slipping away from

The distractions and clamour,

to the wilderness

so he can hear the tender

voice of his father once more.

Mark 1 v 35, Hosea 2 v 14


Biblical Desert Moments

Did he shed tears

At times for the loneliness,

The emptiness, the

Sadness he would encounter

In so many people’s lives?

He would later weep

Over a broken city,

Unafraid to show

All he felt and carried in

Him, for us and for creation.

John 11 v 35, Luke 19 v 41, Romans 8 v 19-22


Biblical Desert Moments

He looks at his feet,

So dusty and encrusted,

From this desert trek.

Sees perhaps all those other

Feet he will serve and wash clean.

He looks at his hands,

Scarred from decades of woodwork,

Cracked and lined with life.

Ready now to reach out and

Bring comfort, strength and direction.

John 10 v 6-9, Matthew 4 v 18-22


Biblical Desert Moments

He will soon be out

There in the hustle of life’s

Days and nights, meeting

And inviting people in

To his life and his living.

A door, a gate, a

Road and a way: tentative

Steps as we learn from

Our mistakes and by walking

With him through the ups and downs.

John 10 v 6-9, Matthew 4 v 18-22


Biblical Desert Moments

He sees clearly who

He is, as he feels the hot

Sand and stones pressing

Into his feet, fully here,

Fully human and alive.

Yes, but alongside

This, he knows where he’s come from,

And where he’s going,

And the extraordinary

Power he holds in his hands.

This truth, this wisdom,

Will enable him to wash

Feet for the next three

Years, no need to make his mark,

But to love and serve others.

John 13 v 3-4


Biblical Desert Moments

Angels helped him there,

These Jacob’s ladder agents,

Earth-bound signs of God,

Often disguised as strangers.

These smiling daily heroes…

In the right place at

The right time, without wings or

Halo, just waiting

To bring a helping hand and

What’s needed for the next step.

Mark 1 v 12-13, 1 Kings 19 v 5-7


Biblical Desert Moments

In some ways perhaps,

He never left the desert,

Would forever walk

These tracks studded with debris,

Carrying life’s stones in his shoes.

Would never leave

The tough, raw and dark places,

Won’t take the easy

Way, the wide road, the short cuts,

Choosing instead the long way home.


For us

He has made this troubled wilderness his home,

He’s walked through the valley of the shadows here,

This Good Shepherd, come to save his sheep,

The king in dusty, creased, everyday clothes,

Dirt in the cracks of hands, grit under his nails.

He’s resisted temptation for us,

Done battle in the empty places,

Made himself raw and vulnerable for us.

Now the new day beckons, a day for meeting us…

In our eating and drinking, in our work, play and rest,

When the walls are closing in a little,

And in the regular routines of our existence.

Does the ground tremble now,

As he makes his gentle, powerful way towards us,

Every step sending out tremors of hope.

As he heads towards us today, invitation in his hands,

To call followers and leaders, dreamers and doers,

To build bridges, and comfort the weary,

To encourage the stragglers and sit with the exhausted

To challenge the proud, surprise the complacent,

To strengthen the broken, and open new doors,

To crouch with the crushed, and run with the heroes,

To wait with the undecided and startle the bored,

To dance with the free and wait with those in the shadows,

To set worlds turning once more, smaller and larger

Than we might expect, more present than the noise,

Or the silence.


Biblical Desert Moments

Are the tales forming

In his mind now? The farmer

Sowing seeds in the

Unlikely places. The one

Setting out for those lost sheep.

Can he see all those

Lost sons and daughters, hunting

High and low for life

In the shadowy places?

And the lives on rock, and sand.

John 10 v 6-9, Matthew 4 v 18-22


Biblical Desert Moments

Illusions really,

That’s what was on offer here,

A poor exchange of

Love, peace and reality

For an apparent quick fix.

His identity

On trial, his calling questioned,

To trade the sure path

Of hope and obedience,

For the lost road to nowhere.

Matthew 4 v 5-6, Genesis 3 v 1


The Son

Heat, bugs, and temptation,

40 days, the pressure on, then

Starts his mission, jampacked,

A rollercoaster that’s a fact.

Stories, wisdom, healing…

A man down through the ceiling,

Meets a woman at a well,

Gives her hope, she runs to tell.

Followers, foes, and friends,

The changing work never ends,

Lighting up the darkness,

Giving all, never less.

A woman healed in the crush,

He wants to see her, won’t rush,

She’s been wounded, he can see,

Gives her back her dignity.

Battling darkness, holding nerve,

Showing how to lead and serve,

Three years of life, joy and tears,

Friday showdown, Thursday fears.

Broken bread, offered wine,

Blood spilled for all time,

Friends confused, misconception,

Judas leaves, dark deception.


Garden night, prayers and sweat,

But it isn’t over yet,

Temple guards blunder near,

Friends cut and disappear.

Fools come and do their dance,

Jesus doesn’t stand a chance,

Pilate scrubs his hands that day,

Knows justice has been thrown away.

Mob rule, curse and spit,

A bloodied man nails it,

Lifted up, a sign to say,

Everything will change this day.

Six hours, a borrowed tomb,

His life cut off, as if too soon,

Sunday’s coming, watch that dawn,

See those women, hunched, forlorn,

Take a risk, bring what they can,

And find a resurrected man!

Jaws dropped, eyes wide,

Hearts thumping deep inside.

‘Tell your friends,’ he says to them,

‘Those weary, lost, frightened men,

Show the world this day has come,

New hope dawns with the rising Son.’


For Easter Week

A Sunday Moment


The crowds spill out on

A hero-welcoming day,

The town filled for a

Festival now upstaged by

A smiling king on a colt.

The crowds want change and

So does he, but their visions

Are diff’rent, his plan

Leading to surprising loss

And unseemly surrender.

Mark 11 v 1-11


A Monday Moment


After turning the

Tables on folk yesterday,

He points to a tree

Without fruit, like a temple

System which has failed to love.

A house for meeting

God has shut its doors to those

Who most need it. So

Here’s a new place to meet God,

Made of flesh and blood and love.

Matthew 21 v 12-19, John 2 v 13-21


A Tuesday Moment


A trap about cash:

Should they pay taxes to a

Corrupt oppressive power?

The coin he holds in his hand

Claims that Caesar is divine.

But he softly says,

‘Pay Caesar what’s his, and then

Offer God the rest.’

A subtle way of saying,

‘There’s One above earthly powers.’

Mark 12 v 13-17


A Wednesday Moment


They are up in arms!

What’s this woman doing here?

Wasting precious cash!

Spilling expensive perfume

In this nonsensical way.

But he knows there is

Sense in this divine madness,

Mary honouring

All he is, and all he’ll do

For all creation this week.

John 12 v 1-7


A Thursday Moment


How did he manage

To eat anything that night?

Knowing all that was

To unfold – betrayal and

Abandonment by his friends.

But he shares this food,

And uses it to point to

A feast that won’t end,

Bought with his blood and body:

We need food and drink and Him.

Luke 22 v 14-20


A Friday Moment 1


Time stands still in a

Way: this Friday will always

Be here for us, a

Place of forgiveness, a place

Where we can bring our burdens.

Three crosses up here,

The one in the centre now

Central to all time.

Casting its long shadow back

And forth through eternity.

Luke 23 v 32-43


A Friday Moment 2


On this day, as he
now empties himself here on
this cross, he is making
way for the fullness of
God to expand within him.

So he can bring full
Life to all he meets down the
ages, knowing he
must fill a tomb with himself,
so he can break out of it.

1 Corinthians 15 v 55


A Saturday Moment


A day for questions,

For emptiness and longing,

A day of hiding

And wondering if there’ll be

A tomorrow worth living.

His body lying

Quietly, as if he’s lost

The biggest battle,

As if all we had hoped for

Now lies broken in dust.

Luke 23 v 50-56


A Sunday Moment


There are no words to

Truly sum up the telling

Of this story, this

Twist, this punchline, this feelgood

Dawn which tops all the others.

In a way it can

Perhaps only be glimpsed as

We visit that tomb

In our own time, our own way,

Seeing the Son rise for us.

John 20


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