Imagine coming up from your baptism and being driven by the Holy Spirit into the wilderness to be alone in silence for forty days to be tested by God. What? Must we wander around in a desert wilderness to be closer to God?
Perhaps we must. When we are conscious of our barrenness—what is lacking within us—we are free to rely on God. As God compels us either through circumstances, actions, or the words and actions of others to give up our self-sufficient ideals, we become able to see and hear God in a new way. I believe this is what Paul describes in today’s passage as the outcome of baptism.
The Lenten season invites us to become vulnerable. On every Friday in Lent, we recall Christ’s ultimate sacrifice on a tree. It is in willfully letting go of expectations and his self-determined will that Jesus submits unequivocally to the will of God.
Barrenness, lack, and void are the vital tools that can complete in us a humble state of being that compels us to be “all in” for God. This desert state of being is necessary if we are to acquire a new life in Jesus Christ. This is the new consciousness espoused in our baptism and with which Jesus initiated his ministry.
This is also the conversion Jesus preached and the new life he promised. For us to focus on the now, which is where God abides, and give up focusing on our past or dreaming about our future, requires this “all-in” dependence on God. Let us make haste to get to our “desert living” state in this Lenten season so we will be prepared to hear and see God and God’s word anew.
Ever-present God, give us a willingness to become totally barren of earthly things, including our past and future, so we depend on nothing but you. Amen.
In the midst of Lent, when many might be giving up a certain food that they love, we read about feasting. The focus is not on physical feasting, but on feasting as a metaphor for communing with God. Isaiah describes food and drink that one cannot buy with money, for it comes freely from the Lord. The psalmist describes the state of his soul as being hungry and thirsty. Only meditating on God’s faithfulness nourishes his soul at the deepest level. Physical food is momentary, but spiritual nourishment endures. In First Corinthians, Paul appeals to this imagery. Although the ancients experience this spiritual nourishment, some pursue physical pleasure and stray into idolatry and immorality. Partaking in this nourishment should cause us in turn to produce spiritual fruit, as Jesus admonishes his listeners.
Read Isaiah 55:1-9. When has God’s grace inverted your expectations?
Read Psalm 63:1-8. As you mature in faith, what new questions about God do you ask?
Read 1 Corinthians 10:1-13. Think of a time you have faced great temptation. How did God help you endure it?
Read Luke 13:1-9. For what do you need to repent?
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