I’m sitting at my dining room table, country music playing just a smidge too loudly behind me as my daughters have a dance party on what feels like the seventy-third snow day this month. I reach for my Bible, running my hand down the whisper-thin pages, and close my eyes.
Before I can even say hello to God, much less reflect on His holiness, one of my daughters is crying and the other is shouting about how it’s not her fault — she didn’t do anything! This time, I close my eyes, but in frustration, not reverence.
I settle this latest argument and suggest a litany of quiet activities my kids might enjoy for a while. Finally, peace. My hand hovers over my Bible, but – much as I’m embarrassed to admit it – I hesitate. My phone is sitting right there, just waiting for me, begging for my attention, promising to entertain me and numb all the irritations that have cropped up this day.
Even if I manage to ignore the pull of my phone, my mind and heart are still so prone to wander.
What time is my appointment this afternoon?
Did I return that message? I should do that real quick, right now.
Why is the cat crying? Guess I better give her fresh water.
That reminds me: I need to refill my water bottle.
Maybe I should try that devotional I bought a few months ago.
I’m just going to pay that bill online . . . and answer that one email . . . and check on that project . . .
When I began studying ways to prepare my heart for Easter, something many know as the season of Lent, I read everything I could find about the time Jesus spent in the wilderness. While accounts can be found in three of the gospels, the brief description in Mark is what resonated most deeply with me.
Thinking of Jesus, alone in the wilderness, being tempted by Satan, surrounded by wild animals was a breath of fresh air to my distracted, weary soul. I feel alone! I’m tempted all the time! And yes, at times it feels like I’m surrounded by wild animals!
When we struggle to quiet our lives and our hearts enough to focus on God, Jesus knows exactly how we feel. And what I know from passages in Matthew and Luke is that despite the desperate situation in which He found Himself, He resisted temptation. The angels served Him, He leaned on His knowledge of Scripture and faith in God, and He resisted.
So what does that mean for me, as I think about one more failed attempt at a simple quiet time? What does that mean for you, as you feel the hunger and isolation of wilderness or battle attacks from temptation of all kinds, as you long for communion with the Lord but feel unable to get there, to stay there, to remember why you were going there in the first place?
It means this: Our Lord and Savior isn’t just the One who can quench our thirst and ease our pain. He is worthy of our praise and adoration, but He also is intimately familiar with our challenges and our struggles. He knows the strength it requires to seek Him and abide with Him, and He knows that, without Him, we will perish in the wilderness.
It means that not only is Jesus our goal when we set aside time for Him, He is our solution for fighting through all the distractions and temptations that work so hard to keep us away. It means that no matter how barren and empty our personal wilderness may feel, we are not actually alone in our search for God. Just as the angels were with Him, Jesus is with us.
This is an excerpt from a book I wrote for you. It’s called Journey to the Cross: Forty Days to Prepare Your Heart for Easter. If Easter is one of those days that sneaks up on you (despite your belief or suspicion that it might be the most important day of all), Journey to the Cross will help you prepare your heart and mind a little better.
And it’s not 40 straight days of hard-hitting devotionals. It’s a few devotionals mixed in with scripture and reflection questions, all with the goal of helping us arrive at Easter more centered, grateful, and focused on the Lord than before.
If that sounds like something you could use in your life this spring, I’d be honored if you’d buy this book. Maybe even buy one for you and one for a friend (or sister or mom or daughter), too! You can find it at DaySpring, Amazon, or anywhere books are sold. Click here for your copy!
One last thing: This post does include affiliate links. That means if you click and purchase, I may earn a small commission at no extra cost to you.