Back to the Wilderness

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“[Elisha] picked up the mantle of Elijah that had fallen from him, and went back and stood on the bank of the Jordan. He took the mantle of Elijah that had fallen from him, and struck the water, saying, “Where is the LORD, the God of Elijah?” When he had struck the water, the water was parted to the one side and to the other, and Elisha went over..” (2 Kings 2:13-14)

Hi Fighter,

We began last week’s newsletter with Elijah – Israel’s most archetypal prophet – slumped under a tree in the desert, wishing he could die. In this week’s Torah reading we get a depiction of the end of Elijah’s life, though Elijah doesn’t exactly die, but gets swept up “in a whirlwind into heaven” (2 Kings 2:11)!

It’s a story about transitions, where the mantel of Elijah, the master, is quite literally passed on to Elisha, the student (or padawan, if you prefer Star Wars speak). It’s also a story about the initiation process through which Elisha is prepared for his new role, and through which Elijah prepares for his to end. The two men, it seems, had to complete a journey that was the reverse of the journey from slavery to freedom that defined Israel as a people.

Whereas Moses led his people out of the land of slavery and through the wilderness, leaving his successor, Joshua, to cross Jordan and enter the promised land, Elijah and Elisha journey through the promised land in order to cross the Jordan and encounter God in the wilderness!

Why is God always leading people back to the wilderness?

In the Torah, the wilderness was the great place of testing. You need faith to live in the wilderness. It’s not a place that nurtures long-term survival. Either you find a way of tapping into God’s divine sustenance, or you perish.

In the wilderness, the children of Israel became a people of faith. It was the wilderness that gave birth to John the Baptist. Jesus too had to journey through the wilderness before He could be ready for His Divine work. For Elijah and Elisha, the wilderness was the place where one man’s life would end and the other’s would really begin!

Why is God always leading people back to the wilderness?

I’ve been struggling through my own wilderness this week. I’ve been sick in bed for much of the time, but it’s the days I’ve been on my feet that have been the greater struggle. So many of the people I’ve been working with and praying for seem to be getting worse rather than better. Issues I had never anticipated are damaging our work. One good friend was taken forcibly into the psychiatric care today. I have no idea what God is doing in all this, and I know I’m not alone in my confusion. Many of us feel stuck in that same bewildering desert.

Jesus once asked the followers of John the Baptist what it was that made them journey into the desert (Matthew 11:18). It wasn’t for site-seeing or comfort. It was because the wilderness is the place where prophets can be found! The wilderness is indeed the furnace where prophets are forged!

Our Sunday Eucharist

Last Sunday I was joined by the Reverend Joy Steele-Perkins at Binacrombi. There were only a handful of us sharing the livestream and yet it was a very meaningful time. You’ll find our Bible-Banter for the week below.

I’m still haven’t confirmed the line-up for this week but I certainly can confirm that we will be broadcasting this Sunday at midday via:

  1. The Father Dave Facebook Page.
  2. My personal Facebook account
  3. YouTube

Please join us.

Thanks for your support

Once again I want to thank all my Patreon subscribers without whom this work would not be able to continue. If you haven’t signed up yet but would like to, please choose one of the following options at the Patreon site.

  1. Middleweight Division ($10/month) where you get access to the member site, along with the videos and other resources.
  2. Heavyweight Division ($100/month) which includes individual coaching, along with software subscriptions to both Buzzious and Streamout, allowing you both to publish an unlimited number of quality blogs and to livestream.
  3. Super-Heavyweight division ($400/month) includes all of the above plus me training with you one-on-one – at The Fight Lab and at Binacrombi Bush Camp

The first weekend in July is looming for anyone who wants to join me at Binacrombi. As I’ve been saying, I’m hoping to earmark the first weekend of every month as a Warrior Weekend in the bush. Come and follow the example of the great prophets of old and journey with me into the wilderness!

May the Lord bless and strengthen you for the work to which you have been called.

Your brother in the Good Fight,

About Father Dave Smith

Preacher, Pugilist, Activist, Father of four

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