Our journey has begun, one that will persist for forty days and forty nights. This journey does not consist of trekking out into a foreign land, but rather voyaging inward – setting out upon the familiar soil of our hearts. A critically acclaimed expert, no one is more qualified than our Guide to lead this expedition: “For we have not a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tested as we are, yet without sinning.” This time exists so that we, as the Church, can unite ourselves during Lent to the mystery of Jesus in the desert.
Os Hillman has done a beautiful meditation on the The Purpose of the Desert. As it has done for me, I hope that it will help you along your journey:
Therefore I am now going to allure her; I will lead her into the desert and speak tenderly to her. – Hosea 2:14
If you have an important message to convey to someone, what is the best means of getting the message through? Have you ever tried to talk with someone who was so busy you could not get him to hear you? Distractions prevent us from giving our undivided attention to the messenger. So too, God has His way of taking us aside to get our undivided attention. For Paul, it was Arabia for three years; for Moses, it was forty years in the desert; for Joseph, it was thirteen years in Egypt; for David, it was many years of fleeing from King Saul.
God knows the stubborn human heart. He knows that if He is to accomplish His deepest work, He must take us into the desert in order to give us the privilege to be used in His kingdom. In the desert God changes us and removes things that hinder us. He forces us to draw deep upon His grace. The desert is only a season in our life. When He has accomplished what He wants in our lives in the desert, He will bring us out. He has given us a mission to fulfill that can only be fulfilled after we have spent adequate time in preparation in the desert. Fear not the desert, for it is here you will hear God’s voice like never before. It is here you become His bride. It is here you will have the idols of your life removed. It is here you begin to experience the reality of a living God like never before. Someone once said, ‘God uses enlarged trials to produce enlarged saints so He can put them in enlarged places!’
He brought me out into a spacious place; He rescued me because He delighted in me. – 2 Samuel 22:20