in search of a wilderness

“Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.  After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry.  The tempter came to him and said, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.”” (Matthew 4:1-3)

This taking to the wilderness fascinates me. Maybe because I feel like I’ve stumbled my way through the desert a time or two.


Maybe I’m fascinated because I need a wilderness experience right about now. Maybe my faith feels dull like a butter knife and maybe I pretend there is no war and maybe this lethargy is making me sick. Maybe.

“Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.”  And in that dry, lonely place, faith and temptation and hunger would collide and it had purpose and was on purpose and He was led there. He didn’t wonder why. He didn’t try to turn around and find His way back to comfort. He followed.

God, make me brave like that. Lead me to what I need and give me courage to follow.

” After fasting forty days and forty nights, He was hungry. The tempter came to him…”  The tempter came when the hunger came. But it wasn’t physical fullness that prepared Jesus for the face off, it was the spiritual fullness that came from forty days and forty nights of denying His flesh. 

And I know that I have been physically full and spiritually hungry for far too long.

 “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.  Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’

The devil is many things, but dumb is not one of them. This was not an identity issue. He knew Jesus was the Son of God, and so did Jesus. He was tempting Him to fill His own need. To provide for His own hunger, without seeking His Father’s will first. Later, Jesus would tell His disciples “the Son can do nothing by Himself; He can do only what He sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does.” (John 5:19) So the way I see it, Satan is tempting Jesus to do it by Himself and for Himself. 

And so I say to myself:  This is not an identity issue. You know you are a child of God, and so does the devil. Stop going around in circles trying to prove that you know who you are. Stop ringing that bell, and wake up to the real issue. 

BECAUSE of your identity, the tempter is trying to get you to do it by yourself, and for yourself. 

To meet your own need. Fill your own hunger. To make your identity about you, instead of about the One who gave it to you.

Four verses from easily my favorite book in the Bible, and one of my favorite passages from that book. A passage I have read hundreds of times. Really. But today four verses have me undone. Today, four verses brought an answer to a problem that I’ve been ignoring.

I have been physically full and spiritually hungry, and, from a biblical standpoint, this is backwards. It has made me dull. Spiritually lazy. Selfish. (Oh. So very selfish.) I’ve just gotten self-consumed, and frankly, I’m a little sick of me.

Today, four verses confirmed my suspicions.

I need a wilderness.Autosave-File vom d-lab2/3 der AgfaPhoto GmbH

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