Worship in the wilderness

It seems to me that as 2024 approaches the world is in a bit of a wilderness state. By “wilderness” I mean just that – a place where we feel lost, hungry, desperate, and hopeless. Costs continue to rise, even for simple things like bread and eggs. Anxiety has never been so medicated. War, even the threat of nuclear war, is the topic of daily conversation. People are apathetic, and nobody seems to care. The love of many has surely grown cold.

Is the experience of the average Christian any different? I think not. We might hear of hope that rises above, the victorious Christian life, and excitement for the next great awakening. But all of that is hodgepodge. I am not saying we should not keep hope alive nor strive forward toward the things of the faith, hoping in Jesus’ returning, eagerly awaiting revival, even his kingdom coming in fulness. But this one-sided “believe enough and you’ll be fine” theology is anything but scriptural. Rather, after reading the Bible a dozen times you’ll start to notice a much deeper and more sacred type of worship –  a worship that happens in, and in spite of, the wilderness.

Using the Bible as our source material, and the physical wilderness experience as a parable, we find that perhaps the greatest expression of Father Son and Spirit we might come upon is not in our mountaintops but rather in our valleys. God seems to do the deepest work in us not in the lush pastures but rather in the dry deserts. A few examples follow that will encourage you! Think of this.

God leads us into the wilderness. If we think that cannot be true, let us quickly consult Luke chapter 4 where it explicitly says that the Spirit of God lead Jesus right into the wilderness! Perhaps God is behind the wilderness we find ourselves in today.

God is working in the wilderness. Exodus chapter 3 details where Moses met God in the form of a burning bush that was not consumed. He took off his sandals as he was on sacred, holy ground – in the wilderness! Another example of this appears to us in Luke 3:2 where we find, after a long list of pompous and important people, the mention of a scarecrow of a man wearing a loin cloth who was doing the mighty work of God…in the wilderness.

God leads us out of one wilderness and into another. This might seem to be incredulous in our exciting “Top 100 Modern Christian Worship Songs” church culture. Numbers 10:12 details the incredible history of Israel, detailing how God led them out of one wilderness…right into another one.

Our response? Worship in the wilderness! Israel, Moses, John the Baptist, and Jesus himself encountered God in the wilderness. They turned aside from their hunger, loneliness and hopelessness and discovered something special as they surrendered to the wilderness experience and found God not on the other side of it, but rather in the midst of it.

And we can too. Does the word “wilderness” describe your life, mental health, Christian experience, relationships, hopes and dreams? If so, take off your shoes, you may be on holy ground. The same God who calls us into the wilderness also promises us, through the prophet Isaiah, that in the power of the Holy Spirit, “the wilderness becomes a fertile field, and the fertile field is considered as a forest.”

Lord give us the grace to endure these difficult times and find you in the wilderness!


This Week’s Calendar

Click above for a list of groups meeting this week.

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We meet every Sunday at 10:00 am
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Our Community

At VCC, we believe that church is not a function: it is a family. Our religion is only as alive as we are, the people that pursue it. So, rather than acting as an organization, we want to act as an organism. We have no time for casual contacts and meaningless formalities. We are a fellowship on an adventure towards the stuff of God. Church means worshipping God together, studying the Bible together, fixing our cars together, hiking together, eating together, playing together, praying together... enjoying the warmth of the Holy Spirit in all parts of our lives together, not just in appointed meeting times.