Wilderness and Temptations
By Rev. Erik Swanson
Jesus fresh out of his baptism, there is that beautiful moment we are told that the Spirit led him into the wilderness. The Spirit led him into the wilderness. If the Spirit is leading, then we could assume this is a place of meaning, learning and growing for him. Not a bad place. Not a place to torture or berate or to thrash himself, but a place of learning and finding. A valuable and important place.
Welcome to the season of Lent— that’s what these days are to be all about. We are invited to face some things that we just may not want to see. This is one of the gifts of entering the Lenten wilderness for these 40 days.
For me, it is in my difficult times, when I am hard pressed, when life is not easy, that I have to deal with temptations more than other times. Our temptations may be one of these things that we don’t want to look at, but when we are able to, this is another place that we can grow.
What are temptations? Aren’t temptations seductive things or ideas or thoughts that draw us away from the deeper truth or deeper goodness? They tempt us to short cuts. To to rely on more superficial and quick pleasures or fixes. Temptations have the power to get us out of our best selves, best intentions, and whole ways of being.
Many of us have been taught it is important to resist temptation and overcome temptations. However, I wonder about dealing with them in a different way. What would it would be like to take accountability for them with the intent to learn and grow from them?
Whether it is the the Lindor chocolate that tempts me on the office desk or for someone the cheating on taxes, what would it look like to take accountability for the temptations that plague us? I wonder if the first step is to stop and invite curiosity into that moment. To wonder, what is really going on with me right now? What am I hoping to avoid, receive or escape by this action?
What is it about this temptation that actually temps me? For me, the chocolate on the desk is a temptation. I can say no to the chocolate, but that doesn’t help me in finding out more about what makes me tick. About what is going on within me at a deeper level. About what I’m running from, looking for or trying to appease.
May this season and its wilderness time be another opportunity to deepen in your walk with the One who guides you.