Time in The Desert

A quick note before we start – we are getting ready to launch The Lazy Heretic Podcast soon – so make sure that you keep checking back for updates – we don’t want you to miss out!

Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. And after fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. And the tempter came…
Matthew 4:1-3a

After fasting forty days and nights, he was hungry! I love when the bible states the obvious!

The idea of Lent is that we begin to identify with Jesus as He goes through this period of fasting, to the point of deep hunger. As we talked about in our last post, each day of these 40 days is supposed to map on to each day of the ones that Jesus spent in the wilderness.

We are supposed to enter into our own wilderness experience. We are supposed to fast from something, we are supposed to deprive ourselves of something, something that we feel may be getting in between us and God. Something which takes our eyes off of Jesus, something which has caused us to, maybe, forget our first love. For some this might be a food, or it maybe alcohol, or TV, books, films, junk food – any number of things. It is not supposed to be a pleasant experience, fasting in the desert is not a pleasant experience.

This is about closing off something, about shutting the noise of the world around us out of our lives, about entering into the silence, about entering into the presence of God, to listen, to drown out the noise with the quiet. To force ourselves to be attentive to what God might be saying at this season. It is not about punishing ourselves, it is not about suffering so that we might take some of the punishment, it is about following in the footsteps of our Lord, to form ourselves in the same way that He is, to become shaped into His image.

One of the interesting things for me in this verse is that it begins with the Spirit. Jesus has just been through His baptism experience, and the Spirit has fallen on Him, His ministry is about to begin, and the Spirit leads Him into the desert!

There is something in that, isn’t there? I wonder if this is supposed to be indicative of the Christian life? Is there something to this?

This time of wilderness.

Is it supposed to be formational?

Is it supposed to prepare us for something?

Is it supposed to empower us for something?

I think that the answer is ‘yes!’ I think that these times of wilderness experiences might actually be some of the most important times of our lives. The times when we feel like we are losing things, when everything seems to be  slipping away from us, those are the times that we will look back on and see that THERE is where God was closest to us, that is when He has come through for us, He has deepened His relationship with us, He has been everything that we need, and the more that we lean on Him, the less we need to lean on anything else. He alone is God.

That is what the time in the desert is about – putting God back in His place, making sure that we know that He is on the throne, that He is the one who is over all, and that He is the one who is able to look after each one of us in the best way for each one of us.

As you go through Lent, then make sure that you don’t lose focus on what it is about – enthroning the God of the universe on the seat of your heart again, and again, and again!

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