Jesus, following his baptism by John, was driven by the Spirit, to spend time in the desert for forty days. There he wrestled with temptations and questions about who he was and how he was to
live his deepest call in relationship with his Father and with others.
Fifteen years ago, I was drawn to experience life in the desert with, and among, the Native American people of the southwest. Both the people and the desert were my teachers as I faced questions of meaning and my call to a deeper commitment to follow Jesus’ Way.
What can the desert teach us today?
The spaces and landscapes of the desert’s unrelenting extremes can weaken the world’s grip on our senses. Slowly we regain our bearings and we notice small but telling signs of God’s presence. We begin to see patterns of providence gathering us into a way God is preparing for us. For this reason, biblical Hope knows the desert as a setting for great transformation.
“The desert lacks everything, except the opportunity to know God.”
The desert, so sparse and desolate, encourages and in fact requires us to strip off all that is nonessential about ourselves so that in the end we realize that as Jesus said to Martha, “Only one thing matters.”
What if we imagined Lent as an opportunity to experience such desert spaces in our lives? Every area of our life has the potential to be desert . . . emotional, physical, economic, relational, spiritual. We will be tested to find out if there is anything we love more than God.
To enter the way of God is to enter the desert way—where the risk is not so much of being lost as being found—by remaining attentive to God, and staying utterly dependent on God.
That is the desert question: “How much can you leave behind?” How much can you live without? Will you allow God to find you?
How is God calling you to live with and for others today?