Sojourn In the Wilderness
By Joel Ross of Venetia, PA, USA
Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the wilderness, where for forty days he was tempted by the devil. He ate nothing at all during those days, and when they were over, he was famished. The devil said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command this stone to become a loaf of bread.” Jesus answered him, “It is written, ‘One does not live by bread alone.’” —Luke 4:1–4 NRSV
My son, two daughters, and I took a hiking trip into the wilderness area of a national park in a desert area of the USA. At the check-in station, we were not expecting the park rangers to assign us to a dry camp (no water source nearby), but we thought we had enough water for two days.
We set out among the red rocks and dirt with beautiful high plateaus, mountains, and sheer rock-wall formations caused by natural erosion. We came to a mountain stream that splashed down the valley alongside us, a habitat for iridescent, gold-colored frogs, a mother duck with her brood of ducklings, and the pungent smells of the dry country.
The hike was long and dry. The trail was dusty. The sun was hot. The trail turned away from the stream and went to higher ground. We finished the water in our bottles a couple of miles before we reached camp. Our mouths got dry, and the trail promised to go on forever. We became dehydrated and tired.
We arrived at the primitive camp and unpacked the remaining gallon of water. We conserved as much as possible while quenching our extreme thirst and preparing dinner. The next morning there was enough water to make only a breakfast drink and refill three of our four water bottles. We set out on the final four miles to return to the car.
About a mile down the trail we filled the empty water bottle from a small stream with water not considered safe to drink, even using a filter. The remaining distance was a steady uphill climb. The sun was hot, and our water ran low, though we drank as little as possible. We became hot and thirsty again. Finally, we reached the end of the trail where there was water, energy drinks, and snacks. They never tasted so good!
There was a celebration of accomplishment. We made it through a challenging journey and had an experience that affected us deeply. We might have been tempted to turn back, but we persevered, overcame challenges, and endured to the end. These were worthwhile lessons we could apply in all facets of life and discipleship.
Prayer for Peace
Sustainer of Life, help us never give in to temptation by taking the easy way. Or perhaps, help us, through perseverance and practice, to make Christ’s way easy and natural for us. May we always seek your spiritual food and your Living Water, which lead us to peace.
Spiritual Practice: Spiritual Hunger
Jesus discerned hungers of body and spirit, and he fed them through a physical, verbal, spiritual ministry of presence. In a time of listening prayer, ask God to help you discern physical or spiritual hungers of people in your congregation, community, and global family. Invite the Spirit to move you to one hospitable act that feeds someone’s hunger today.
Today, God, I will endure and surpass challenges to peace.