Last week we had more water in our back yard than we’ve seen in years. During a major rain event, our back yard floods and will hold water for a few days. Last week there was a lot more than usual. It was strange, because while the outside was wet, I was in the middle of the driest spiritual desert I can recall for some time.
I haven’t posted for days because there has been nothing in my head or heart worth repeating. The desert isn’t a pleasant place. I don’t know why anyone would go there intentionally, yet Jesus did. “Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.” Matthew 4:1. He not only went voluntarily; he was led by the Spirit. He had a purpose “to be tempted.” Why would anyone seek a desert temptation experience?
The desert is full of temptation. There is a temptation to hopeless abandon. There is a temptation to think God isn’t around, if He exists at all. Even if He is around He has no interest in me or my life. There is a temptation to give into loneliness: the conclusion that I’m all on my own and there is no one else, least of all God, on whom I can depend. There is a temptation to act alone. After all, if it’s just me, then if anything is going to happen, it’s up to me.
I think, after all, that the purpose of the desert experience is just the opposite of the God-doesn’t-care.-I’m-all-on-own-temptation. I think it’s in the desert where apparently alone with our thoughts and detached from the world that we encounter God. In the desert there is no distraction, at least no pleasant distraction. It’s in the desert where we can find some clarity, direction and, yes, maybe even some hope.
It’s not like the mountain top. It’s not pleasant or fun, but maybe it’s necessary. Maybe we need some time wrestling with Satan. If it was good enough for Jesus…