by Mary Harker | 3-minute read
Growing up, my church did not emphasize Lent. To me, Lent meant we had macaroni and cheese and fish sticks in the school cafeteria because the Catholic kids couldn’t eat meat, or that they (the Catholic kids) gave up eating candy from Ash Wednesday to Easter. They would come to school with a dirty spot on their forehead on Ash Wednesday.
Through the years, I learned the true meaning of Lent. From Ash Wednesday to Easter is a time of reflection and remembering what Jesus did for us on the cross. It is the opportunity to set aside a particular time to spend with Jesus, listening to his voice. I spend time contemplating my spiritual walk and going deeper with Jesus.
This Lenten season, the story of Jesus in the wilderness and his temptation comes to mind as an appropriate message to ponder. Many of us can relate to being in a barren place this year, feeling forgotten, alone and living in a wasteland. But Jesus was not alone in the desert, and neither are we.
Throughout Scripture, God uses the desolate places in life to develop character and prepare men and women for the future he sees ahead. I look at Abraham, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, David, Elijah. God used their times in the wilderness to bring growth and maturity. God took them away from distractions to give defining moments of preparation and purpose.
Time in the desert allowed men and women to see how God provides during times of need.
It is in the wilderness that our trust muscles are strengthened. During the desert times, God surprises us with a new understanding of who he is and his character. In the story of Hagar, God sees her in the wilderness and she encounters his intimate love and care. She returns to her mistress, assured of the love of her God.
My heart is encouraged, and heaviness lifted, as I consider all he has done for me. Not because I deserved it but because he is a God who loves like crazy and lavishly. As I allow him to prune the garbage in my life, there is space for him to enter. His love fills my soul and bubbles up to spill over on those around me.
If you find yourself in the back country that is unknown and uncomfortable, come away for a time during this Lenten season and study one of the biblical characters who found themselves in the wastelands for a season. Read their story and discover how God met them and showed them more of Himself. You might be surprised how the desert may nurture your soul.
Father, as we take time this Lenten season to spend time in your presence, strip away the unnecessary and fill us with more of you. May we see your provision and growth in the wasteland. May we experience intimacy with you. From my fellowship with you, may others see the love you have for them.
Note: Some of the thoughts in this devotional piece were adapted from the Bible study book, Elijah: Faith and Fire, by Priscilla Schirer.