We don’t have to read the Scriptures for very long before we find out that God likes deserts. He originally planted a garden for us to live in, but things get messy and we end up with some arid patches in the world and knowing that there are some desert areas, God’s going to make use of them.
The 12 tribes of Israel walk through the desert for 40 years after their escape from Egypt. The prophet Elijah was strengthened in the desert to shake off his discouragement and continue his mission.
And, of course, Jesus goes into the desert for 40 days before he begins his public ministry. Deserts aren’t comfortable places and they make us question our priorities. It’s in the arid desert where we discover how important the essentials really are, and also that the lost luxuries perhaps weren’t as important as we first thought.
Deserts are places also of silence, simplicity and sometimes a bit of boredom. When some of our distractions are taken away, we can often hear God’s voice a little louder and a little clearer.
COVID-19 seems to have given us all something of a desert experience. Our time of tighter social restrictions may have helped us to re-evaluate some of our priorities and re-focus on the essentials.
Spending more time at home may have been something of a desert, taking away some of our busyness and opening up more room for prayer.
Maybe this is the time when God is asking us to listen a little more intently to his voice and to hear his call? Maybe this is the time when God is inviting us to consider the deeper questions about the meaning and purpose of our lives?
So, what are some discernment tips for the ‘COVID desert’? If we’re going to get serious about discerning a vocation, it’s important to get the basics right.
We pray best when we’re fit and healthy, so get decent rest and a bit of exercise. This means keeping a good schedule and not just lounging through the day wondering ‘what should I do next?’
It’s important to put prayer on the schedule and prioritise it.
We need to give God the best time that’s available to us, not the few minutes left over after binge-watching Netflix.
Social media can be like water which finds and fills every crack of silence in our day; don’t let it. Leave a bit of quiet time for reflection.
Don’t forget to read, especially good information about the vocation you’re discerning.
Final tip: talk to someone about your discernment. It’s a big step, but an important one.
The Vocations director is here to help you hear God’s personal call to you.
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