Ok. So maybe it is just the timing of things, but this book is ripping me apart. Not sure if this will speak to anyone else, but here is an excerpt from Ordering Your Private World, by Gordon MacDonald, pp 68-70.
In the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, when Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea, and Herod was tetrarch of Galilee, and his brother Philip was tetrarch of the region of Ituraea and Trachonitis, and Lysanias was tetrarch of Abilene, in the high priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas, the word of God came to John, the son of Zacharias, in the wilderness. And he came into all the district around the Jordan, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. (Luke 3:1-3)
"These words contain an intriguing insight. Caesar, we’re reminded, was in Rome doing whatever important things Caesars do. Annas and Caiaphas, major-league priests, were in the Jerusalem temple promoting organized religion. And various other political personalities were going and coming in public places, participating in seemingly newsworthy events. Their worlds were the impressive public worlds of power, notoriety, and human connection.
"Then this: But the word of God came to John, an insignificant man in the most insignificant of places: a desert. Why John? And why a desert? Think about it!
"Why John? First answer: Only God knows. Beyond that, one simply has to say because John responded. The call demanded submission to God’s ways, God’s methods, and God’s criteria for success. And John was willing to accept those terms no matter what the cost to him in pain or loneliness.
"Why a desert? Perhaps because in the deserts people can hear and brood upon things not easily heard or thought about in busy cities, where people are usually hurried, surrounded by noise, and steeped in self-importance. Sometimes in cities the shrillness of the public life is so great that the whispering voice of god cannot be heard. And sometimes in cities, people are too proud to listen to God amid all of their steel and concrete skyscrapers, their colorful theaters, or their incredible temples.
"God drew John into the desert where He could speak to him. And when He got him there He began to stamp impressions onto John’s inner world that gave the son of Zacharias a totally different perspective on his times. There in the desert he gained a new view of religion, of right and wrong, of God’s purposes for history. And there he developed a special sensitivity and courage that would prepare him for his most extraordinary task: introducing his generation to the Christ. His private world was under construction – in the desert."