Wilderness Temptations

Yesterday at church, as the first Sunday of Lent, you may have heard the Scripture passage about Jesus being tempted in the wilderness by Satan. Jesus gets away to be with His Father, fasting for 40 days. During this time, as His body and spirit are weak, Satan tempts Him. Interestingly, this falls on the heels of everyone (presumably even Satan himself) hearing God say that Jesus was His beloved Son in whom He was well pleased right after Jesus was baptized by John. Jesus is re-assured of who He is and of His value to God. But it is then that Satan tries to tempt Jesus.

And the Bible says Jesus was tempted. There was a part of Him that wanted to give in to Satan's offers. Sure, He was hungry. Some bread would have been very tempting. Having all the nations as His? Well that would have just made saving humanity all the easier. We like to think of Jesus being so pious that nothing could sway Him from obeying God's will. But He was tempted. Just like we are. Unlike us, He didn't give into the temptation. Still, He knows what temptation is.

It all happened in the wilderness. Pastor Jan said last night at church that we experience wilderness in two ways: 1) we enter into it or 2) it comes to us.

I've had many times in my life where the wilderness comes to me, where I'm going through life and suddenly I find myself in a difficult place. A place I don't want to be. And, I admit, that a lot of times it is my actions that have brought it about. But not always. Sometimes it just happens. And I'm tempted. I'm tempted to turn from God. I'm tempted to give in to coping with the difficulties in unhealthy ways. I'm tempted to give up. But it is often in those wilderness moment where I find God more deeply if I just persevere.

There are other times I enter into the wilderness. I've never been to the arid desert. It is usually those dry places that we think of as the wilderness where Jesus was tempted. When I enter into the wilderness it is usually a lush, wooded area. Often water is prominent, like in the Boundary Waters. It is a place where I want to be. It is a place where I often meet God.

I think my temptation there, in the wilderness I love to be in, is thinking that it's the only place I meet God. The temptation is to want to stay there and avoid the numbing routines of life, to avoid civilization.

The wilderness, by definition, is wild. It is not always safe. But it is good (sounds like a certain Aslan I know). Whether it is a time of hardship, or an uncivilized location, the wilderness is a place where temptation happens, but where we draw closer to God.

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What is your wilderness? Where does wilderness happen for you?

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