I am still on the email distribution list for our church in Waco, which means I get the weekly "in the life of the church" emails that get sent out. This past week's was really poignant for me and struck me so I want to share it here because 1. I thought it was really insightful 2. It was really meaningful to me at this stage in my life 3. I think its important to share life-giving information, you never know what someone else is going through.
The most shocking thing about the Temptation of Christ is the first line: “and was led by the Spirit in the wilderness.” (Luke 4:1). It’s shocking because we know what happens next. As Jesus fasted, the Devil approached with three temptations: one of hunger, one of power, one of safety. We know that Jesus is able to deny Satan and the Spirit leads Jesus out of the wilderness. This isn’t the end of the matter, however.
“Was led by the Spirit in the wilderness.” It is God who leads Jesus into the desert. Nothing good happens in the desert. The desert’s hot, no water, no food, almost no life and the sun is unforgiving. The sheer vastness of it drives minds mad. Furthermore, people believed the desert was a haunt for demons (Luke 11:24; Matt 12:43). Still, Jesus “was led by the Spirit in the wilderness.”
Do you ever feel like you have been led into the desert? Maybe you have. Maybe it was God who did the leading. After all, if God led the Lord into the desert are we, as his followers, expected to do any less?
Thank God for the Lord then. If God is to lead us into the desert we have the Lord as our example. He was in constant prayer before being led into the desert, once there he fasted, and because of these his mind and spirit were completely in tune with God. There were no distractions for Christ. This is why he could deny the Devil.
The Lord said “If anyone would follow me, they must first deny themselves, pick up their cross, and follow me” (Mark 8:34). The “follow” part is wherever Jesus leads, that most certainly includes deserts. The hope then is this: “Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit” (Luke 4:14). Just as God led Jesus into the desert, he led Jesus out of the desert. The key is, as always, to keep following. Amen. (written by Kelly Doolittle)
I think when we go through times of "being in the desert" we don't often think it was God who brought us there, we just beg and plead with him to take us out! Right?! Its an interesting thing to sit and wrestle with, that God brought us to the hard place, the barren place, and is choosing to leave us there....for a while. Several months ago I was in a bad place, the darkest hole I've ever been in and someone said to me "He won't leave you here." In that moment I wanted so badly to believe it, that this wouldn't be my new normal but I wasn't entirely sure. You see, when you're in a dark place, and its unfamiliar territory you start to question a lot of things (including your sanity!), and what were once simple truths become big questions, its frightening. Now that I'm on the other side of that I can better understand and appreciate the words "He won't leave you here." The good news about that is, now I can tell someone else that same thing-and know that its true, and speak truth into their darkness. Good things come from pain. I was doing my Bible study homework today and the take-home was that God remembers his people. Its fitting that today I'm being reminded that God can/may be the one leading me to the desert but he won't forget me and leave me there. "Just as God led Jesus into the desert, he led Jesus out of the desert." As Kelly said above "keep following." Amen. xo