The Spirit drove Jesus out into the desert, and he remained in the desert for forty days
We know that the human body needs food and water to survive. A human can go for more than three weeks without food, but water is a different story. At least 60% of the adult body is made of water. The maximum time an individual can go without water is about one week in ideal conditions, less in more difficult conditions, like the broiling heat of a desert.
Jesus in His humanity is just like us (except for sin). It is unlikely that He gave up all food and water during His fast. What He did give up in the desert experience was any hint of self will. There, He fully connected with the Father and conformed Himself to the Father’s will. He accepted the hard road ahead as His mission. This experience, separated from human company, barely existing, the ultimate in aloneness, prepared Him and strengthened Him such that no temptation, no allure could pull Him off the Kingdom mission.
Believers are often called into a profound and mystical desert journey. It is a certain time of aloneness and apartness where we face the big roadblocks that are in the way of our journey to heaven. In that time, we break down the roadblocks, grind down the speed bumps, burn away self-interest, and commit to the road toward the kingdom. In the desert, we find God’s mission for us and learn to differentiate between the things that keep us on mission or draw us away.
This week we faced a horrible tragedy in Florida. Lives taken, young, beautiful lives that will never have the opportunity to experience the desert journey of growth. Rather, they were pulled away from all of life’s experiences and opportunities.
Jenny Rapson, writing at For Every Mom, notes that seventeen souls lost their lives on the first day of Lent. She asks us to seriously consider what we are giving up for Lent as individuals and as a nation. Reflecting on Jesus’ desert journey. she says: “Let’s give up, as a country, as a nation, let’s give up whatever it is” that blocks us from doing what is right; “whatever it is that allows people armed with assault rifles and shotguns to keep coming into schools time and time and time and time and time again to murder our children and their teachers. Let’s give that up. Let’s identify that thing and then let’s lay it down and sacrifice it so no more children have to die.”
Her poignant words call us to rise to the challenges we face as individuals, communities, and as a nation. They remind us that the desert experience must be part of our everyday lives. We must take the desert road to determine what we must give up. the actions, thoughts, and words that do not live up to the Father’s will and His Son’s example of resisting temptation, bringing healing, offering peace, and living anew.