Our Worship Pastor Seth Condrey has written a 5-part devotional series based on the lyrics from his new song, "Great Hope, Great God." I'm excited for him to share these with you over the next several issues of "The Weekly." I know you will be encouraged.
"What if I’m looking for rivers, when the desert is right where you are?”
A desert is defined as, “A dry, barren area of land…characteristically desolate, waterless, and without vegetation.” Dry. Barren. Desolate. Waterless. A place that seemingly isn’t producing much at all.
“Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil…”. Matthew 4:1
Have you ever stopped to think about this? Jesus began his ministry by spending a month and a half alone in a desert without food or water - and it was the Spirit that led him there!
For most of my life, I avoided the lonely, quiet place of solitude. I never enjoyed being alone for very long. As a result of both my personality and fear, suffering in a lonely desert has never sounded more appealing to me than being on a refreshing river with my friends and family.
Truthfully, until recently, I intentionally overlooked this lonely, desert experience of Jesus in Matthew 4. Thankfully, the significance and relevance of the desert is something I can’t ignore any longer.
Reading Henri Nouwen’s book The Way of the Heart was a paradigm shift for me. He writes, “… Solitude is the furnace of transformation. Without solitude we remain victims of our society and continue to be entangled in the illusions of the false self. Jesus himself entered into this furnace.” I have begun to see that the desert is exactly where Jesus needed to be! Jesus is very familiar with the lonely place - the wilderness that strips us bare. This is where He was tempted and where His identity was assaulted.
In Matthew 4, we see the enemy of the soul attack Jesus in 3 ways:
Does this sound familiar? Aren't we too assaulted by these same compulsions of the false self? And is it possible, as Jesus was led, that the Spirit would lead you and I into a similar place to face them head on?
This dry and lonely place can also become a refreshing oasis. It may be the place where we begin looking and listening for what truly satisfies our lives. As Jesus stated and modeled, the Word of God is our Sustaining Bread, and the Living Water of life in the Spirit can quench our forever thirst. And it can be found right where we are. Today… the Word and Water are available to us!
“If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink…”
Are you thirsty? Dry? Emotionally and spiritually spent? Have you looked around and thought about the desolation and barrenness of your town or city? Are you in a desert? If the Spirit led Jesus into the desert, then perhaps the desert is not a place we need to avoid, but rather a place we need to embrace.
- Seth Condrey