As I’ve been on this Lenten journey, it occurs to me that we spend a lot of time in the desert. The 40 days are symbolic of Christ’s time being tempted by the devil in the desert, but if you think of it, we spend an awful lot of time in those “desert places” ourselves. Most of life is in the everyday humdrum, doing your best to make it through. We can’t see how what we do today will impact tomorrow, next week, next month, or next year – or if it will matter at all.
I posted this picture of The Grand Canyon because it’s truly one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever seen. Pictures don’t do it justice. Being there is an overwhelming experience. There was a stillness there that I’ve never experienced – it even seemed to swallow up the chatter of the tourist passing by. I remember that my first thought looking at the red rock and blue sky stretching on forever is “this is reality. This is the world God created.” The only noise was the noise we created. And it occurred to me that humans create an awful lot of noise. There’s beauty in the desert, as you can see here, but it can also kill you. It all depends on what you bring with you. Come prepared, and you’ll be alright. You may even find inspiration and beauty in the desert. Come unprepared, and it will kill you.
I think you know where I’m going with this. Faith it the thing that brings you through, and yet faith is the thing we struggle with most because the devil is always countering it with doubt. There is a battle going on, but it’s not in the silence of this world – it’s in our soul. Free will leaves us in a pickle. It’s God’s greatest gift, and yet Satan has found a way to make it just a tight enough noose to hang ourselves with. The noise is really inside of us. So how do we quiet our souls with the peace that Jesus died for us to have? Our journey through life means that we’re always moving. God doesn’t move, but we do, through every decision we make. It may be big steps or so small that we don’t perceive it, but we’re always moving in one direction or the other.
It’s not easy. We struggle, perhaps more than most, because we know what’s right and we fight our human nature every day. I think that’s one thing that people outside of our faith don’t understand. They think that believers should have smooth sailing through life, and use our hard times as justification that faith is a waste of time. But the fact of the matter is that Jesus promised that there would be struggles, and that applies to everybody, whether they believe or they don’t. We’re all going through the desert. Nothing can stop that. What matters is what you have with you. Faith can keep you alive when others are sucked to dry bones. Hope tells us that nothing lasts forever and that we will make it through if we persevere. And love is what saves us and keeps us alive on the journey – the love of Christ to grant us grace and save us, and our love for others to help and support one another through.
The pastor was right. It is impossible to reconcile faith with humanity. It’s a tangled ball of contradictions that’s good for nothing but a headache and undeniable guilt. The good news is that Christ took care of that struggle for us all. He paid the price, so we don’t have to overthink it and twist ourselves up in knots trying to make sense of it. The trial is over, the penalty is paid, and the case is closed. Now it’s time to move on, armed with the grace and salvation provided, and find the quiet beauty of the desert.
That’s all today. Take care and have a great Holy Week.