Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. After fasting 40 days and 40 nights, he was hungry. Matthew 4:1-2
My husband and I got the opportunity to visit Israel a few years ago. It was the experience of a lifetime, bringing the Bible to life in vivid color and 3-D detail.
We spent the first week exploring the old city of Jerusalem. It was not what I had expected. I was so overwhelmed with the sights, sounds and smells, that I struggled to connect with Jesus in this holy city.
The old city was beautiful, vibrant, diverse, and full of culture. There were tight alleyways filled with shops, merchandise and always lots and lots of people. Aggressive men that would yell at you to buy their goods. Pushy women that cut in front of you in lines and crazy donkey riders that demanded money if you took a picture of them.
The next week we headed outside of Jerusalem to discover the surrounding areas. Our first stop was the wilderness of the Wadi Qelt. We took some time to pray and think about Jesus’ 40 day fasting experience in the wilderness.
It was so refreshing to get out of the city. I could think, I could breathe, I could actually hear God’s gentle whisper.
I never thought of the rocky wilderness areas of Israel as being beautiful, but they are magnificent. We saw a stunning waterfall, with a shepherd leading his goats. We saw coyotes and deer and breathtaking views that stretched for miles.
For the first time I could see that Jesus being led into the wilderness was not a horrible trial He had to endure. It was a sweet time of retreat to be with the Father before His ministry began.
I could imagine Jesus walking the ridge of the mountains early in the morning and then retreating to the cool caves or a shaded water oasis during the heat of the day. And then singing worship to God under a canopy of stars at night.
When Satan came to Jesus at the end of His fast, yes, He was physically weak and very hungry, but He was also spiritually strong and ready to handle any temptation satan might throw at Him.
The wilderness is important for our spiritual lives as well. We need to step out of our busy schedules and be refreshed by God’s creation and solitude, even if it’s only our own backyard or a big window looking outside in the middle of winter.
Take time to breathe and rest and hear from God, just as Jesus did. Let the Holy Spirit lead you to the wilderness today.
Prayer: Thank you Father, for your beautiful creation that refreshes us and helps us hear from you. Draw us to your wilderness today, that we may see you more clearly. In Jesus name. Amen.