Jerusalem is in a desert. Water is easily the most essential element. There are great aquifers in the area and the politics of water underlies much of the political reality on the surface of the ground.
It was observed by one of our pilgrims that the early Christians left the cities to enter the desert, there to fight with the demons and to find God. But in our modern period, the cities themselves have become deserts, and we tend to see the wilderness as a place to flee the arid emptiness of the city and find something of value (whether God or something else).
This I think is part of the testimony of Christians of that desert place through the ages. Christianity, where water is a rare treasure, places us in a different relationship with the land. Our cities, of course, have plenty of water (in the spiritual sense), but not all of the water is fit to drink. Thus our struggle includes an effort not to be poisoned.
We do not live in a world where religion is a rare phenomenon, but where it is all too common. But we live in a world where the truth amidst all that religion is rare indeed.
All of which brings us back to the heart. For it is the task of the heart to discern between good and evil – sometimes a difficult task indeed. For a Christian, more than ever, our modern world forces us to look not to ourselves, but to the wisdom that has gone before us. The truth as found in Jesus Christ is not new – but is the same truth through the ages. It does not need improvement but obedience.
May God give us the early and the latter rain.