As we come to the end of Lent, I wonder how has it been for many of us. Has this Lenten Season been a time of self-reflection leading to growth and change? Or was it just a blur as you waited for Easter to get here?
The 40-day period is reflective of the time Jesus spent in the wilderness (led by the Spirit) without food or water; and to be ultimately tempted by the devil. It’s during this time we hear about Christians giving up things for Lent; or fasting either part of, or all of the Lent period.
For me, this Lenten Season has been a time of much reflection and soul-searching on my part. It also gave me the chance to take a good hard look at my relationship with the Divine. If I look at my Lenten journey and the 40 day trial of Jesus in the wilderness through metaphorical eyes, I see myself taking a journey through life’s wilderness led by the Spirit. Not so much a desert in the Mideast, but a place where God and I can be alone without distractions. As I mentioned in earlier posts, God has to take me into the darkness where I can be alone with Her, and to the Center where I can be centered. The wilderness to me is more internal than external.
I also see where Jesus fasted those 40 days without food and drink. Metaphorically, the story speaks to my being in that wilderness without the “food and drink” of intellectual or religious stuff. That God wanted me to fast from my ego, my intellect, and my religious trappings. I believe it could mean that stuff we take in as food and drink: book-learning, the daily news, the “noise” called preaching at some churches; also spiritually intoxicating “drink” that numbs the senses of the heart in an escapist manner (like our “Jesus Fixes?). Stuff we think is “feeding” and “refreshing” us, but is making us spiritually sick.
At the end of his 40-day experience, Jesus was tempted by Satan (or the “devil” for the rest of us). “Satan” in the ancient Hebrew meant an angel specifically assigned to block or obstruct human activity or endeavors. Here, I see Satan as one testing Jesus’s seriousness in his spiritual journey. The same happens to us today-especially when we try to grow closer to God. Satan could be an angel that tries to test our spiritual resolve: “Oh do you really need to spend that time alone with God? Aren’t there more pressing things on your plate?”; “The darkness? That sounds so gloomy? Wouldn’t you rather be in the light with the crowd?”
Also Satan speaks to and though our egos. He tries to test our place with God (“If you are the Son of God…” ref Matthew 4) by having us twist our relationship with God via our God-given power to serve our own interests (turning stones into bread). Or to become cocky in our spiritual life thinking we’re indestructible by getting into situations that could do more harm than good (jumping off the temple’s pinnacle). Or last, to settle for what appears to be valuable, yet temporary in the long run(the kingdoms of the world).
Ultimately in the end, Jesus give Satan the brush off with Scripture and was ministered to by God’s angels. When we become infused with the Divine (God’s word), we too will grow beyond ego and can brush off those things that try to block our spiritual evolution. I pray that I will be like Jesus and transcend into that higher realm as well.
Then that will be the true meaning of the Lenten Season!