Thursday, September 18, 2014

for those who are tired and thirsty

Ever wandered through the desert?
It can be so lovely getting lost in among the cactus and tumbleweed, finding wildflowers and watching the sun set behind giant red rocks.  I lived in Arizona for almost seven years and I found beauty in the desert.  But...
there was also heat
and snakes
and coyotes
and scorpions
and dust storms
and dry, cracked earth.


It's one thing to spend an afternoon discovering desert beauty and it's another thing to spend days there alone and without food.
Not so lovely.
But that's what Jesus did.
40 days.
40 nights.
Alone.
No food.

And then the enemy showed up with one purpose...to tempt him.

Jesus allowed himself to become vulnerable and weak not because he wanted to, not because he was forced to, but because he was led to that desert place.

Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness...

No one ever wants to find themselves feeling alone, weak, tired, hungry, vulnerable...
but sometimes we are led to that place...to that desert season in our lives.

And when we are at our weakest and most vulnerable...when we are just plain tired of the daily struggles of life or the crises that just won't stop running us over...the world tempts us.

We are offered all kinds of shiny things that promise to 'make life better'
or 'ease the pain'
or 'give us what we deserve'
and so in the middle of the desert we become so preoccupied with our own well-being and what is best for ourselves that we accept those offers which ultimately are just a mirage.  We are so exhausted and disoriented that we believe we are moving towards a pool of water that will bring refreshment and fulfillment to our dry souls but it turns out to just be more sand...more desert that we can't escape.

Jesus knew that there was only one way to escape the temptations in the desert.   One way for Him and one way for us...
the word of God.

Jesus is alone and vulnerable in the desert when Satan tempts him to use his power to turn stones into bread and stop his hunger, but Jesus answers,
It is written...man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.

Satan then tempts Jesus to demonstrate his authority by calling upon angels to do his bidding but Jesus answers,
It is written...you shall not put the Lord your God to the test.

And still Satan would not relent.  He tempts Jesus to gain more power by declaring his allegiance to the devil and receiving authority over all the kingdoms of the world but Jesus answers,
It is written...you shall worship the Lord your God and him only shall you serve.

And then...the devil left...the temptation subsided and the scriptures tell us

angels came and were ministering to him

because in the desert season Jesus didn't succumb to the temptations of temporary pleasure...temporary relief of discomfort...Jesus remembered the eternal truth of God.

It wasn't about a little story he was living in the moment...it was about a much bigger story that God has been writing since the beginning of time.
And
every single. thing.
that the enemy offers...that the world offers...pales in comparison to what God offers.  If you know God's word, you know that's true.

Recently we completed a two year journey at our church called 'The Bible Project'.  We began with Genesis and worked our way all the way to Revelation.  In the process God's word worked it's way into our hearts and our lives.  

If the greatest way to survive a desert season is to proclaim and stand upon what has been written by God then I guess we better darn well know what is written.

There is no substitute for studying God's word.  
There is no better way to safeguard yourself for the desert wandering to come.
There is no other way to ensure that even in the driest of seasons you will still grow and flourish.

Knowing what is written is knowing the greater story.
It's not just knowing bits and pieces of scripture and trying to make them fit into our little lives but knowing the depth and breadth of God's story and how you fit into it...because you do.

When you know God's word you know this...
what Satan was offering Jesus
what he offers us
is all just a trick 
because God has already given us everything...there is nothing he withholds from us.
To submit to the enemy's ways is pointless because there is nothing he can offer us that Jesus hasn't already died and bought for us on the cross.

The only way to live a truly abundant life is to live it within the pages penned by the Great Author...the one who wrote you into existence and who writes you into eternity.

And the only way to live that story is to know it...to know the word of God...the story of God.

The more we understand his story, the more we understand our own.

Believe me...I have chased after my fair share of mirages in this life but I have learned the truth...

when our roots are connected to streams of living water there is no desert season we can not survive.
{art courtesy of my lovely and talented friend arin}