This is an invitation! I start this reading through the Lent devotional that I’m doing today, but Lent doesn’t officially begin until March 2nd this year. Lent is a lot like a walk into the wilderness. It’s like when Jesus went for 40 days and 40 nights to be tempted by the devil, part of lent is to let go of what we cling to and what we cannot live without. The interesting part is that most people give up things that they can live without, things like chocolate, sugar, and caffeine are perhaps habits or addictions but what if we took a moment to think about what we think we can’t live without and give that up for lent?
While we’re thinking about that, let’s look at what Jesus couldn’t live without; when the enemy came saying, “if you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.” Jesus clung to what He couldn’t live without. His answer was this, “it is written man must not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.” Can you imagine being hungry for 40 days and 40 nights and someone dangles bread in your face, and your heart and whole being would rather have the word of God? I long for that kind of strength. The devil comes all the time, yes, he comes to entice us and call us away from what God has for us. He will use anything. It doesn’t matter what it is. If it keeps us from seeking God, from seeing God, and knowing Him more, he’s all for it. In Matthew 4:10 it says “worship the Lord your God and serve only him.” This is the way that Jesus lived his life; He was yielded to the Father, and He glorified Him with His life.
Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. 2 And after fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. 3 And the tempter came and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.” 4 But he answered, “It is written, “‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” 5 Then the devil took him to the holy city and set him on the pinnacle of the temple 6 and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down, for it is written “‘He will command his angels concerning you,’ and “‘On their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone.’” 7 Jesus said to him, “Again it is written, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.’” 8 Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. 9 And he said to him, “All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me.” 10 Then Jesus said to him, “Be gone, Satan! For it is written, “‘You shall worship the Lord your God and him only shall you serve.’” 11 Then the devil left him, and behold, angels came and were ministering to him.Matthew 4:1-11
If I’ve learned anything lately, it’s that if something isn’t going the way that I want it to go, I will fill it with whatever I can find. I recently found a 2-hour window in my evening, that I had been filling with snacking and scrolling. The problem is, I was bored and didn’t know it. Later, my pastor asked me to read a book about the way I steward energy in my life. It turns out that the 2-hr window is in a green zone, which means my brain is fully awake and alive, ready to do something. I have been wasting it on lesser things than what I am created to do.
Sometimes we have to find ourselves in a place of emptiness. Our culture does not enjoy empty-handedness. People treat it as a type of “lowest of conditions.” To be honest, we’ve been trained to find our worth in lesser things. The problem is that we tend to see our usefulness, our status, or our ability to seek joy in what we have, as the greater thing. It’s not! Lent is a time to remember that our hope and strength are found in nothing else but the cross of Christ.
Sometimes, these things that have just ended up in our life, like my snack and scrolling, are places that have to be re-trained. Our hearts need to learn to re-embrace the salvation, that we cannot earn. We have to learn to come empty-handed, just like we did when we 1st came to Christ. I was pregnant with my daughter and had no idea how to be the mom that I longed to be. That longing, to be something greater than what I was, for this little person that was growing inside of me, pressed me to see my need for Jesus. Over and over in my life, I have had to learn that I have nothing of my own and that when I turned to Him, and only when I turned to Him, it’s what He has freely and graciously given me that makes all the difference.
“Come, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and he who has no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without price.2 Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread, and your labor for that which does not satisfy? Listen diligently to me, and eat what is good, and delight yourselves in rich food. 3 Incline your ear, and come to me; hear, that your soul may live; and I will make with you an everlasting covenant, my steadfast, sure love for David.Isaiah 55:1-3
So, I invite you into this wilderness walk to face the places of lack, to face our human frailty, and frankly, to face our sin. But this walk into the wilderness doesn’t just stop there, it leads us all the way to the cross. I want to encourage you; as we begin to put down everything that we’ve done, everything that you have picked up, and held on to as something that satisfies your heart, to lay it down. Lay down everything, every deep longing, and come with open hands and freely receive from Him: Jesus our solid rock!
“Seek the Lord while he may be found;
call upon him while he is near.Isaiah 55:6
so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty,
but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.Isaiah 55:11
Thanks for Listening,