The external processor
Luke 3: 18 “ And with many other words John exhorted the people and proclaimed the good news to them.”
The Message: “There was a lot more of this—words that gave strength to the people, words that put heart in them. The Message!”
I came across a new phrase the other day as someone described themselves as “an external processor”. Where have I been all this time not coming across this phrase before?! I just thought the person talked a lot!
Anyway, John continued to speak words of life to these people. His name remember means ‘Yahweh is gracious’ and there are no limits to the grace of God. This was a season of an outpouring of that grace.
They were repenting from their sins and being baptised in the context of messages that gave them life, encouragement and strength. They were an oppressed people being lifted out of their despair into hope that the Messiah was soon to come, he was just round the corner and he would be here any moment.
John continued speaking again and again, story after story, calling the people back to the wilderness to experience God. He was externally processing all that was in him. All that God had imparted into his life as he grew up in the Judaean desert. Here in the dry and dusty climate lived monastic communities, strict Jewish sects and hermits who would educate the younger generation. We don’t know of course what that looked like for him but these are hidden years in the wilderness for John. What we know is when he emerged he came as a prophet with many words.
Not comparing myself to John the Baptist at all but I do remember on many occasions when I pastored my church in Dewsbury that it felt like I was in hiding. My HQ didn’t really know what was taking place there, apart from records sent in, this was pre-social media years (when the world knows a second after the events), but they were exciting years of preparation for all that God has done in me since. No one saw the tears, the periods of fasting, the many challenges, the doubts that needed defeating and the times when I wanted to give up. But also no one saw the gracious moments of knowing God as Provider, Protector and to carve out an experience of His Presence in my life. There were many wilderness years in my life and they were the best.
I truly believe God wants to take us all back into the wilderness at some point, into hiding, into a season when you are out of sight and out of mind. If that is how you describe yourself then this is where God wants you to be. It is here where a narrative is formed within you for the future.
The next season of your life is to externally process all that God has put in you in the desert for the good of people. But to do that you need to have come from the desert in the first place.