Desert Wisdom: The “Water” of Repentance

Bunge returns to the overarching theme of this section in his book—the gift of tears.  If the desert is the place where true repentance occurs, then part of God’s “water” to revive our souls is the tears we shed in the wilderness as we realize how we have tried to be our own gods (pp. 101-103).

But tears must not be viewed as an end, but only as a means.  Tears are not an evidence that we have risen above others; they are a sign that we have been brought to our knees by the conviction of the Holy Spirit.

Apparently, there were those in early Christianity who considered “the gift of tears” (as they called it) to be an exaltation—which quickly turns out to be just another form of presumption.  So, to guard against this (and all other forms of pride), the desert mothers and fathers put tears in the context of contrition, not superiority.

The tears which flow from our eyes from time to time are illustrations of the tears which Jesus shed as he looked down upon Jerusalem and lamented, “How often I would have gathered you to myself as a hen gathers her chicks, but you would not” (Matthew 23:27).  They are signs of the pain in God’s heart when even one sheep goes astray.

Tears are an acknowledgement of the Fall, but as they flow from a truly-repentant heart, they are also the first signs of hope.  The dam of sinful resistance has collapsed and the Water of Life can now flow.

There is “water” in the desert—the “water” that comes from a repentant heart—a heart that knows and feels the extent to which egotism has offended God and wounded Christ.

About Steve Harper

Dr. Steve Harper is retired seminary professor, who taught for 32 years in the disciplines of Spiritual Formation and Wesley Studies. Author and co-author of 45 books. He is also a retired Elder in The Florida Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church.
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1 Response to Desert Wisdom: The “Water” of Repentance

  1. Burrell Dinnkins says:

    Steve: there are about fifty kinds of tears. I had never heard of desert tears, but now I have.

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