“Every year we begin the season of Lent by recalling the temptations of Jesus alone in the wilderness. Why alone? Because alone, away from the distractions, Jesus faced his temptations. That is where the real work begins, for him and for us.”*
Scripture: Matthew 4:1-11 (The Living Bible)
Then Jesus was led out into the wilderness by the Holy Spirit, to be tempted there by Satan. 2 For forty days and forty nights he ate nothing and became very hungry. 3 Then Satan tempted him to get food by changing stones into loaves of bread. “It will prove you are the Son of God,” he said.
4 But Jesus told him, “No! For the Scriptures tell us that bread won’t feed men’s souls: obedience to every word of God is what we need.”
5 Then Satan took him to Jerusalem to the roof of the Temple. 6 “Jump off,” he said, “and prove you are the Son of God; for the Scriptures declare, ‘God will send his angels to keep you from harm,’ . . . they will prevent you from smashing on the rocks below.”
7 Jesus retorted, “It also says not to put the Lord your God to a foolish test!”
8 Next Satan took him to the peak of a very high mountain and showed him the nations of the world and all their glory. 9 “I’ll give it all to you,” he said, “if you will only kneel and worship me.”
10 “Get out of here, Satan,” Jesus told him. “The Scriptures say, ‘Worship only the Lord God. Obey only him.’”
11 Then Satan went away, and angels came and cared for Jesus.
I guess my introvertedness is why I love the season of Lent so much. With so many other things to demand my energy and time, I welcome the opportunity to spend intentional time alone. The example of Jesus in the wilderness for 40 days is what calls us to the 40 days of Lent. In this time, we are challenged - no matter what our personality type prefers - to follow Jesus in spending time in prayer and meditation, alone with God.
Alone with God. That can be a scary thought for some of us, especially if we think the time means that, with no one else to look at, God will only be able to see our frailties and failures and omissions. Hopefully, that's somewhat true because Lent is about coming to terms with our own inadequacies and failures in order to emerge on Easter as more faithful followers of Christ. But time alone with God can also mean simply resting in God's love, knowing that no matter what God sees, that love remains.
Love and Grace,
*Thomas R Steagald's writing in Shadows, Darkness and Dawn is to be our companion for this journey of Lent. I am utilizing this book in my own personal daily reflections as are others among our congregation. You are invited to join us, and I do still have some copies of the book available. Let me know if you'd like one.