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Hosea 2:14 Matthew 4:11 Psalm 30:5
The image of the desert and wilderness when applied to the spiritual life evokes a dark and troubling picture. We often speak of our desert experiences as being ones when we feel under great trial and far from God. But as I meditate on the desert this Lent I am continually being drawn back to the idea of the desert being a place where we can enjoy a greater intimacy with God and experience a real sense of joy in His Presence. It is a place to receive God's affirmation. In a previous post I wrote about a particular man's experience of retreat in the Egyptian desert. Although it was indeed a difficult time of seclusion, facing his inner turmoil, there were also days for him when he felt completely free and peaceful in God's Presence.
When it comes to Jesus time in the wilderness, we often focus on the temptations. These were indeed more powerful than we will ever experience, but for Jesus there were also times of respite when satan retreated and angels were sent to minister to Him. In that Judean wilderness I wonder if Jesus ever sat looking at a beautiful sunset, basking in the love of His Father, all well with the world? I would like to think so. What I do know is that whatever deserts we are in, whatever struggles and trials, God wants to give us these moments of refreshing. The irony is that it often takes a desert experience to bring us to such a place. Let's be confident that just as the Holy Spirit led Jesus to this dry place, so the Spirit is leading us, and there may even be one or two angels casting a watchful eye over us.