When you are tempted, what do you learn about yourself?
When Jesus was tempted in the wilderness, he settled the trajectory of his life and confirmed his mission. It was single-focused: be the bridge to bring people to His Father. False accusations didn’t distract him. Debate didn’t unnerve him. Misunderstanding and betrayal from the closest to him didn’t make him question. What happened in the wilderness so strengthened the way he embraced his mission, nothing made him lose focus.
I vacillate more than I wish. I can speak about faith in God with confidence, teach it with clarity, and still wonder . . . am I heading right, choosing right? The questions haunt like day old garlic bread from Olive Garden.
Wilderness for me doesn’t happen in the desert. It happens when I am tempted to give my doubts higher standing than the faithfulness of God.
The dark questions I hear are these: What am I supposed to do right now? How am I supposed to get there? How will I know for sure?
I know they are the wrong questions because they come from pushy voices in my head that I have learned never belong to God. But silencing them in the wilderness when there is nothing good to replace them with is an excruciating process I often fail at.
Rather than return to my questions, I just need to remember how Jesus responded to temptation. His responses didn’t give him bread, they gave him strength. His responses didn’t give him power, they gave him restraint. His responses didn’t give him a detailed itinerary, they gave Him his Father’s presence.
And that is when he feasted. And when he feasted, he was no longer tempted.
True isn’t it? When we have the intimate awareness that God has our back and front, our past and future, our hopes and dreams, when we know that He has no questions without answers, no promises without fulfillment, no dreams He cannot make come true; we feast there, too. We come to the journey with new wonder saying from a new-formed root to faith, “How can this be?” and our heart turns to the adventure that waits without a doubt that God will bring it to pass.
The purpose of temptation is not to undo us. The purpose is to help us realize how our poverty can never fill our needs by our best inventions. It could be the need to be in control, to be noticed, to be right, to be understood, to be loved and so many more. God always meets our needs better than we could meet them. If we take that truth to the cross, we will enjoy a feast we didn’t prepare.
And we will hunger for His need-meeting ways so much more. Another gift of the journey.
Scripture to guide your way to the cross . . .
Then Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan River. He was led by the Spirit in the wilderness. Luke 4:1, NIV
I will protect those who know my name. Psalm 91:14b