Meeting God in the Desert Spaces

Matt. 3:17, 4:1 “And a voice from heaven said, ‘This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.’ Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.”

Deut. 8:2-3 “Remember how the Lord your God led you all the way in the wilderness these forty years, to humble and test you in order to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep his commands.  He humbled you, causing you to hunger and then feeding you with manna, which neither you nor your ancestors had known, to teach you that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord.”

All of us, like Jesus, like the ancient Israelites, find ourselves in the desert at times.  We may have a sense of what it would mean for us for “the kingdom to come near,” for things to be set right, for us to enter our Promised Land…  But instead of that longed-for rightness and wholeness, we find ourselves tired, dirty, hungry – alone.  It’s uncomfortable to follow a God who actively leads us into these desert seasons.

Yet this is a God who loves us as a father loves his children.  He humbles us so that he can feed us and sustain us, so that he can teach us and help us live into his kingdom reality, Deuteronomy tells us.  Henri Nouwen puts it this way: “The wisdom of the desert is that the confrontation with our own frightening nothingness forces us to surrender ourselves totally and unconditionally to the Lord Jesus Christ.”  How can we lean into that risky, uncomfortable, yet also freeing truth today? 

Take at least 5-10 minutes of solitude today to talk with Jesus about the deserts you have been walking through lately.  What do they look and feel like?  How have you been trying to escape them?  Where do you see the traces of God’s presence in those lonely places?  How could you let him meet you here more fully, to feed you and teach you?