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In the Wilderness: Raised From the Depths

March 29, 2020
Sign next to the running track at Karshi-Khanabad (K2) in Uzbekistan

When I was deployed in 2005 to Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan and Karshi-Khanabad (K2) in Uzbekistan you really felt like you were in the middle of nowhere. I sometimes wonder how we got out of there without any significant (at least as far as I know) medical issues when there were signs like this around K2! I well remember returning home to Grand Forks Air Force Base after that tour and feeling like I had returned to paradise!

Whether I am thinking about K2 or the wilderness that Jesus found himself in for forty days and nights, or the current wilderness that we find ourselves in as we self-isolate to try and keep the COVID-19 Novel Coronavirus from hitting, it can be overwhelming. To be honest, I sometimes find myself exhausted and drained of energy. There are so many questions that cannot be answered and the future is truly unknown. At times like this people often wonder who or what to turn to for answers or hope.

In this environment, the voice of the Psalmist takes on new meaning in our lives. Out of the depths I cry to you, O Lord. Lord, hear my voice! Let your ears be attentive to the voice of my supplications! (Psalm 130:1-2). First of all, I can imagine Jesus praying these words as he spent those forty days in the wilderness. I can also hear the voices of Mary and Martha crying out to God as their brother Lazarus died. How many times down through the ages have God’s children cried out in anguish and despair. Yet the Psalm doesn’t end on this note of despair. As we continue to read we see a transition from despair to the hope that sins are forgiven and that the soul still waits for the Lord. It ends with the proclamation of hope and assurance. God’s steadfast love and power are with us!

We proclaim with the Psalmist and with Jesus himself that even in the midst of the darkness, the light of God’s love shines. David M Bailey, a singer/songwriter who was the son of renowned theologian Rev, Dr Kenneth E. Bailey, invited people to join him as he fought a GMV IV Brain Tumor for 12 years. The majority of the albums he released were during his fight. His lyrics speak deeply to me and continues to speak to so many others today. In his poem, “When” he says the following:

But if you should stumble and fall down on the ground
and you look in all directions but see no one around
it could be that everybody else has fallen too
and as much as you need them somebody else needs you
So rise up, my friends, and welcome this new day with a
cherish every second and drive away the doubt
Walk right through the shadows, I promise there’s a way

Then find out why the good Lord’s given you another day

As I look to the unknown future, I have a choice to make. I can either live without hope and slip into depression and despair, or I can look around and see the light and love of God’s presence. This can even happen in virtual worship as a community of faith gathers around their computers via Zoom to worship and fellowship together. As the banner on our website says: We are open in our new virtual setting. All are welcome!

May you find such hope, presence, light, and love as we walk through this wilderness together. May that light, life, presence, and hope be felt by every first responder, medical team, workers in the grocery stores and other essential services, as we walk through the Valley.

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