By Brad A. Martell of Spokane, WA, USA
Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. He fasted forty days and forty nights, and afterwards he was famished. -Matthew 4:1-2 NRSV
Overhead, the Milky Way was a bioluminescent river in the blackness of the Southern Utah desert. Lori and I had come here to rest, erode, and sink like succulent taproots into the red desert sands. We were camping in the Needles of Canyonlands National Park. Our campsite was tucked under a red sandstone overhang hiding us from the other campers in the campground. There was no artificial light, no flashlights, no lanterns to muddle our vision of the stars in the night sky. The darkness enfolding us was complete.
Earlier in the day we hiked red rock, slot canyons, and desert scrub under the warmth of the October sun. Gusting winds swirled grains of sand across rock. It cooled our sweat and scraped our skin with grit. This red desert land has been sculpted by water and wind. Sandstone arches spanning more than an American football field seem eternal, yet are only a few drops of eroding, freezing, crack-expanding water away from collapsing to the desert floor. This desert is a landscape of change, an erosional landscape, constantly being sculpted from the inside and out over millions of years.
Comparing my 45 human years to millions of years of ecological erosion seems at first insignificant. However, I cannot help but reflect on how God’s Spirit has been eroding, sculpting, and transforming my inner and outer landscape.
My spiritual life has been as dry as a desert waiting for spring thunderstorms. My heart has been as hard as stone needing spiritual erosion. Yet God’s Spirit continues to blow like a wind, eroding my stony stubbornness. The Spirit brings renewing and resurrecting rains to a dormant spiritual life. God’s Spirit is constantly bringing spiritual erosion and transformation to my daily life, even when I’m not conscious of it.
During this Lenten season I’m reflecting on what I learned in the desert last October. I’m identifying the temptations and distractions in my life that keep me from God. I’m practicing being conscious of God’s spiritual erosion and how my discipleship is constantly sculpted.
What distracts you from deepening your discipleship? What brings you rest, renewal, and closeness to God? How are you being conscious of God’s spiritual erosion in your life?
God, may my deep hope align with your deep vision. Release in me anything that keeps me from freely following your Spirit. Amen.
Invitation to Spiritual Practice
Breathe deeply as you enter a time of silence. Become gently attentive to what may be restricting you from faithfully responding to the divine invitation in your life. Are there priorities, attachments, tasks, or motivations competing for your response? What does freedom for God look or feel like in you this day?
Today’s Prayer for Peace
Engage in a daily practice of praying for peace in our world. Click here to read today’s prayer and be part of this practice of peace.