Editor’s note: This Lent season, Bread Blog is running a series of devotionals written by staff, alumni, and friends of the San Francisco Theological Seminary, which is affiliated with the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.).
By Rev. Stewart Perrilliat
It is amazing when you stand in the midst of a chaotic situation that is unfair, unjust, or immoral, and watch how God ushers in order. Even in your darkest hour, it is comforting to know that God feels your pain and hears your prayerful cry. In times of loneliness, experiential faith speaks and reminds you that, not only is God near, but God is concerned about your current situation. Hebrew 4:12 reminds us that “…we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who in every respect has been tested as we are, yet without sin.” Faith speaks and says, wherever we are, God is there.
In Exodus, being banished from Egypt, Moses felt alone and isolated. He had moved from a standing of royalty, wealth, and power, to a place of poverty and loneliness. He no longer stood as a prince of Egypt; yet, he had become a prince of scorpions and snakes in the desert — on the backside of a mountain. As God watches over our lives, God processes us with tests, trials, and life’s adversities to test our faith and prepare us for the service wherein we have been called. It was Moses’ destiny to be a deliverer. In order to lead more than one million people through the Sinai Desert to the Promised Land, Moses would first have to be moved from his place of comfort in the palace, to a place of discomfort on the backside of the mountain where he would learn how to lead sheep. It was an unprecedented feat that required an intense course in leadership. But, God trusted Moses to do the job. The classroom was in the most unlikely place — the desert — the place of testing, where Moses developed faith and a relationship of trust with God.
Lent reminds me that I must be willing to make sacrifices and to be moved to the backside of a mountain if I am to present my body as a living sacrifice that pleases God. But, I am not easily moved from my comfort zone. In truth, I am not easily persuaded to move to a place of discomfort. Who enjoys suffering?
When we witness injustices in the world, hear the rhetoric and diatribe against society’s poor and marginalized made by those aspiring to lead our great country, and as we stand upon this holy mountain — even on our beautiful campus, are we willing to be processed on the backside of a mountain so that we can preach the gospel to the poor, heal the brokenhearted, preach deliverance to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised? Before you say yes, know that there is a price.
For me, Lent means that if we are to do the will of God, then we must be willing to move from our place of comfort and be processed for service on the backside of a mountain. In so doing, we avail ourselves to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with our God.
Rev. Stewart Perrilliat is a doctoral student at San Francisco Theological Seminary.