Wilderness (Lent 1)

‘The Spirit immediately drove him into the wilderness. And he was in the wilderness forty days, being tempted by Satan. And he was with the wild animals . . . .’

I came to faith by daring to walk into a church after I did the worst thing I have ever done to another person. It was a rock-bottom conversion, which we can find many of in the stories of the saints. I think God got a-hold of me then because there was a chink in my armour and there may never have been again. 

Finding God’s love, forgiveness and existence in the aftermath of sin gave me atleast an inkling as to what one of my wilderness temptations would be. 

Do you know what yours would be?

Perhaps they are all rooted in the three temptations of Christ: the quick comfort of the bread from stones during the fast instead of endurance, to put God to the test instead of having the patience of faith, and to have power at a price or perhaps rather to do evil for the sake of good, to say the means justify the end. 

Being Christian does not make us bulletproof, as Jesus was in the face of these temptations. But Jesus gives us a Way to follow, that he has trodden. Jesus, the Word of creation, made flesh, dwelling in the wilderness – where we are told the demons are – among the wild animals, in a sort of Jungian-shadow-Eden. Jesus, the new Adam, going where we cannot go, beginning his Way even then. Jesus, who calls us to repentance and relationship with him. 

May we have the courage to follow him into the wilderness and face up to what we find there. 

It isn’t a step we can skip.

by The Revd Danny Pegg