Upon my bed at night
I sought him whom my soul loves;
I sought him, but found him not;
I called him, but he gave no answer.
“I will rise now and go about the city,
in the streets and in the squares;
I will seek him whom my soul loves.”
–Song of Solomon 3:1-2, NRSV
To experience the absence of God is also to experience God’s presence. So did the sparseness and bare simplicity of the desert strip Jesus of all but the most essential truths of his life? Did the lack of water, did his thirst, did his hunger reveal to Jesus a deeper thirst and a more driving hunger? Did it show him the deepest desire of his heart, to live as God’s Beloved to the fullest potential of his divine humanity? Did he discover that it mattered more to him to encounter a Living God than to limit his experience of God to moments of comfortable and comforting emotions? Did Jesus experience God’s absence in the wilderness as another face of God’s presence? And did his experience of Absent Presence sustain him for what lay ahead?
During this season of Lent, I simply invite you to test these possibilities against the realities of your own life. When and where has the hidden presence of God been revealed in your wilderness times of desert barrenness? –Laurie Gordon, The God of Barren Landscapes
- When has absence revealed to you what really matters?
- When and where has the hidden presence of God been revealed in your wilderness times of desert barrenness?
- Prayerfully dwell with Song of Solomon 3:1-2. What is God’s invitation to you in this text?
God—you’re my God! I can’t get enough of you! I’ve worked up such hunger and thirst for God, traveling across dry and weary deserts. –Psalm 63:1 (MSG)
There are no obvious reasons to look forward to Lent. We begin with ashes and end with the Last Supper.
In the between-time we’re invited to ponder dust and walk in wild, dangerous, desert landscapes. We’re invited to face our mortality and our weakness. Frankly, few of us would choose Lent. Most of us have to be driven into it, just as Jesus was driven into the wilderness by the Spirit after his baptism. –David Brock, Driven Into Lent
- Where do you notice reluctance within on this Lenten journey? When do you find yourself led by the Spirit into something you would otherwise not choose?
- How is the Spirit moving in you in the between-time of Lent as you “ponder dust and walk in wild, dangerous, desert landscapes?”
- Prayerfully dwell with Psalm 63:1. What is God’s invitation to you in this text today?
Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the wilderness, where for forty days he was tempted by the devil. He ate nothing at all during those days, and when they were over, he was famished. –Luke 4: 1-2, NRSV
People in Jesus’ homeland wanted a certain kind of kingdom. Interestingly, Jesus’ temptations play off these desires. Would he be what they imagined? Would he be the king they were starved for? So Jesus spent 40 days in the wilderness, fasting. Fasting is a way to discern true hunger from the false –and it’s the false hunger we should fear. Would Jesus be what God wanted, or would he give in to his contemporaries’ images? –Anthony Chvala-Smith, The Kingdoms in Our Heads
- How do you discern true hunger from false hunger? What “unanalyzed hunger” needs your attention?
- What images or expectations from others currently impact your behavior? When you imagine your true self in God, what do you discover?
- Read Luke 4:1-13. Which of the temptations of Jesus relate to images of self you are invited to release? For additional reflection on this story, see p.4 of “Sacred Restraint: A Spiritual Companion for the Lenten Desert.”