Blessings of Banishment

And He (Jesus) withdrew Himself into the wilderness, and prayed.” (Luke 6:16)

Well, it’s not exactly banishment.  It may be a medically necessitated or self-imposed quarantine, but for most of us, we have been out of “circulation,” including that of attending regular church services, for a longer time than we have ever experienced before.  Because of the federal, state and local guidelines in coping with the dreadful Covid-19 pandemic, there has been a national and even international sheltering in place that has been deeper, broader and longer than we had imagined it would ever be.

We have had doctor’s appointments via our smart phones during which a doctor can examine us, diagnose our problem, and prescribe the proper medication all while we are sitting in a bedroom, living room or den of our own house.  We can have our groceries delivered as well as meals if we so choose, all without any contact or conversation in the transaction.  We worship via the internet and conduct our business or family gatherings through the medium of Zoom.  Coughing cannot contaminate the air in the isolated manner in which we conduct our lives now.  We can do banking and about everything but pump gas; but then, we are going nowhere so there is no need for filling up the tank.

It’s a new world!  And, we are dreaming about the old world with its infinite number of choices of what to do and where to go, wondering if life will ever be the same again.

As we contemplate the future while musing about the past, it probably has dawned upon us that all of this lockdown has had some benefits.  We are not so pressed now to find time to read the Bible that has so often been neglected in former days.  Prayer is more likely now upon our hearts if not upon our lips as we are able with fewer distractions to focus more; and we are likewise more prone to listen to others as they share their blessings and burdens.  Facebook may have been a nuisance before the shelter in place, now it is a lifeline of communication into the homes and hearts of those about whom we care.

Speaking of a time when one’s life was shut down, consider the aged follower of Jesus Christ, the apostle who outlived all other apostles, John the beloved.  He was banished by the Roman emperor Domitian and exiled to the island of Patmos because of his testimony for his beloved Lord.  It was there, in his old age, that John received a message from God through Jesus by an angel, known as The Revelation, the final Word from God about things primarily future.  John had time to listen, to meditate and to commit to memory that which he had seen and heard until he would have the opportunity to put those unimaginable images and texts in writing.  All in a place of desolation and desertion, but Oh, what he saw and heard and learned about the Lord and His plan for the culmination of the ages!  

So, as we continue to move forward to the future, still in slow motion because of a “shut down,” remember that good things can accrue because of what we are experiencing.  Don’t forget John and his “lock down.”  Then meditate upon the Psalmist’s words found in Psalm 46:10:

“BE STILL, AND KNOW THAT I AM GOD:  I WILL BE EXALTED AMONG THE HEATHEN, I WILL BE EXALTED IN THE EARTH.”

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