Jesus was taken into the wild by the Spirit for the Test. The Devil was ready to give it. Jesus prepared for the Test by fasting forty days and forty nights. That left him, of course, in a state of extreme hunger, which the Devil took advantage of in the first test: “Since you are God’s Son, speak the word that will turn these stones into loaves of bread.”
Matthew 4: 1- 3 The Message
Perhaps it seems strange that Lent is my most favorite season in the Church calendar. Lent has always been such a powerful part of my faith journey. My birthday is often in Lent ( this year was a notable exception) so whilst pancake parties have abounded, Lent provided time for reflection. I got married during Lent, and I loved the fact that a day of festive celebration and joy filled loud parties was juxtaposed with a season of intense devotion to God. Lent provided a fitting backdrop in 2008 when bereavement and loss left me gasping for breath, as people I loved became memories. Grief wrapped around my heart and mind, but it offered no warmth. And then there were the Lenten years where I look back and remember when wars were waged in my heart, battles raged in my soul… and were settled.
Such a Lenten legacy can leave me feeling a bit intimidated at times, even legalistic. I love the discipline and intensity of it all, so if I’m not careful I find myself competing with spiritual disciplines of years gone by. How can I top the year when I gave up X for Lent? Maybe I’ll try giving up Z… As though the power and mercy displayed in my life ever had anything to do with my austerity achievements.
Humbled, I still long to make room for God. To be with Him, to listen. To slow down, to be available, you know. For Him to be Himself in my life and me just get on with receiving and obeying. So rather than feeble attempts at a repeat performance of Lenten glories of yesteryear, I’ve been thinking about this verse and considering how to respond. Today.
The Spirit led Jesus into the desert. As I reflect on challenges and adversity ( more posts to come on that), I sometimes wonder how I got here. Sometimes its life; sometimes its Him. But Jesus embraces what is to come, he prepares for it, he engages with it, even though it brings him to the end of himself, acutely hungry.
This Lent my emphasis is not what I’m going to give up; its about engagement. Its a time to respond to the promptings of the Spirit, to be led, yes, even into the desert. Even if its to the very end of myself. And none of us want to be there, but He’s there. And for that reason alone I am confident of this, whatever challenges and battles we’ll encounter during this season, we will meet our God.
I’d love to hear your thoughts and reflections on what Lent means to you – let’s chat in the comments below. Jo x