Daily Lenten Reflection

He sustained him in a desert land,
    in a howling wilderness waste;
he shielded him, cared for him,
    guarded him as the apple of his eye.
–Deuteronomy 32:10, NRSV

When I finished my doctoral studies, I was ready to start my academic career. The long path of study had begun with a clear awareness of God’s call. With the degrees behind me, I was now ready to make a name for myself in the scholarly world.

“Make a name for myself.” Only later would I see how that desire had worked a spiritual coup d’état in me. During the years of graduate study, I had unwittingly turned God’s call into a plan for me. Hunger for success had formed a kingdom in my head. It seemed so reasonable: scholars make names for themselves. Why shouldn’t I? I yearned for the same recognition they all had.

But when I couldn’t find an academic job anywhere, Charmaine and I found ourselves stuck in a 3½ year desert excursion, off-script and off-track. Kicking and screaming, I protested that deserts were for other people. But this no-exit situation became a forced fast. Without it I could never have glimpsed false hunger and the kingdom I had formed in my head. That kingdom was impeding God’s call. It wasn’t what God wanted. My life, and Charmaine’s and my life together, could not be about ‘making a name for me.’ For it to be shed, this distorted desire needed to be named. Without wilderness times, no one can be saved. Thank God for deserts.  –Anthony Chvala-Smith, The Kingdoms in Our Heads 

Reflection:

  • When have you been confronted with false hunger? What “forced fasts” have brought perspective in your life?
  • Where might your own “distorted desires” be impeding God’s call in your life now? What desert are you invited to enter, or stay in, to discover your deepest, truest hunger?
  • Prayerfully dwell in Deuteronomy 32:10. Even in the desert times of life, how is God present with you and sustaining you?

4 Replies to “Daily Lenten Reflection”

  1. as a single mom I was busy with cub scouts, girls scouts, church camps and teaching. I was making a name for myself till cancer showed up. This was my desert, my learning time and God saw me through it.

  2. I’ve enjoyed the daily Lenten reflections and especially the picture of the desert. The cairn stacked by the trail represent for me the trail markers along the way of daily meditations like the ones we are receiving in addition to the makers of scripture, prayer, companions on the journey who God has placed in my life and the insights shared by others.
    Thank you

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