Friday, March 8
The Bible is full of wilderness stories. In fact, the wilderness seems to be one of God’s favorite places to be revealed to individuals. The Bible is also filled with references to the number 40, using it to represent a lengthy period of time.
This experience of Jesus’ 40 days in the wilderness ties him into the great spiritual lineage of Moses on Mt. Sinai, Elijah on Mt. Horeb, and even the 40-year nomadic wandering of Israel. The wilderness is where the resources are scarce and the individual is vulnerable. Wilderness experiences then, are those desolate places and barren times, when the familiar and comfortable are disrupted.
You do not need to look far for them. You can find wildernesses right here in the metropolitan area of Washington, D.C. Perhaps some of you are experiencing your own wilderness time right now. Our wilderness experience may be an event that creates fear or confusion, an experience of personal depression or emptiness, or a loss that brings despair and loneliness. Whatever the wilderness, the comfort comes from knowing we are not alone there.
Our devotion today teaches that Christ himself encountered such a time and that he was tempted and tested. Our lesson also teaches that by calling on the strength of God, and calling on his own inner strength, he persevered. The same is true for us as we go through the trials and challenges associated with one of life’s wildernesses.
Even today, God is seen most clearly, and experienced most vividly, in the wilderness. When our supports are removed, our provisions are limited, and our direction is unclear, it is our open hearts that make possible the fullness of God.
There are many routes to Easter, but all of them go through the wilderness. All this we know, but we need to be reminded of it, and Lent is a good time for that.
Prayer: Holy God, open our hearts to experience all that you desire for us. Open our eyes so that we may see you are more than an oasis in the wilderness. And open our ears that we may always hear the Holy Spirit’s gentle leaning even when our human strength is almost gone. In Christ’s name we pray. Amen.
– Woodie Rea