“Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tested by the devil. He fasted forty days and forty nights, and afterward he was famished.” (Matthew 4:1-2)
A two-story house had caught fire. The family, father, mother, and several children—were on the way out when the smallest boy became terrified, tore away from his mother, and ran back upstairs. Suddenly he appeared at a smoke-filled window, crying like crazy. His father, outside, shouted to him: “Jump, son, Jump! I will catch you.” The boy cried: “But daddy, I cannot see you.” “I know,” his father called, “I know. But I can see you. Jump right now!”
Israel spent 40 years in the wilderness learning what it meant to trust God. Elijah spent 40 days in the wilderness until he heard that small still voice of God. Moses spent 40 days listening to God’s giving of the law on the Mountain. John was living in the wilderness as a place of repenting so that he took the first step on the path of peace. Jesus entered into the wilderness right after his baptism for 40 days, fasting and praying and he was famished. Why 40 days in the wilderness?
Are you walking in the wilderness right now? Maybe your wilderness looks like a hospital waiting room. You might feel like you are in the wilderness when you sit in your car and cry after you lose a relationship, or in the middle of the night when you are looking for a solution to a financial problem. No one wants to go into the wilderness, but we find ourselves in the wilderness at unexpected times. Let us know that the wilderness is not a place of suffering, but a place of refinement and training. Our wilderness is the womb of God’s blessing. And 40 days in the wilderness is vital to a mature relationship with God. God is going to bring us into the wilderness at some point to look deeply at ourselves and see all of us the way God sees us. We have to confront the dark side of our lives and confront the things we do our best to hide from God and from others.
As we continue on our Lenten journey, let us be led by the Spirit to have the courage to head into the wilderness as Jesus did. As St. Paul reminds us, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness.” (2 Corinthians 12:9) Our time in the wilderness frees us from all our fears and concerns in life. Jump, son, daughter, trust ME, and I will hold you safely!