By Katie Harmon-McLaughlin of San Anselmo, CA, 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
We wear many lenses as we seek God’s direction for our lives. These lenses include cultural norms, religious traditions, political and ideological preferences, and socio-economic status. We are invited to honestly examine the ways our lenses sometimes restrict faithful response. In Doctrine and Covenants Section 163:9a, we are reminded to “break free of the shackles of conventional culture that mainly promote self-serving interests.” Through the practice of spiritual freedom, we intentionally make space within to respond freely and faithfully, even when that response disrupts the status quo and invites us into transformation.
During the season of Lent, we will dwell deeply in this practice in the pattern of the story of Jesus’ temptation in the wilderness. Over and over, he was offered seemingly good things that might satisfy hunger and ego but resisted each one as he continued to seek God’s call. Jesus in the wilderness models a posture of radical availability to God.
We are not strangers to the ways temptations can come in subtle forms and offer seemingly good things. It takes practice to remember that not every convenient or satisfying option is the best one. The Lenten journey invites us into a spirituality of resistance. It is a time to sort through our priorities and agendas and release our attachments to what doesn’t bring fullest life for ourselves, others, and creation.
It is a sacred risk to challenge the cultural norms and trends we are immersed in and to confront the systems we have come to rely on. This can happen in large ways, but also in the details of our daily lives as we make simple, yet consequential choices about what we will consume, how we will behave, and how we perceive the world around us. Spiritual freedom is an active, alert, attentive posture of openness to the Spirit in every condition and circumstance.
It is my prayer that this Lenten season will be an opportunity to redirect our hearts toward God as the source of all we are and do. May we be blessed with the wisdom and courage of the wilderness Jesus as we discern when to resist and when to embrace in all the moments of our lives.
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.