(my Lenten discipline this year is to write a short devotion, without extra editing or excessive thought, on the coming Sunday's lectionary texts for each of the 40 days. Later I might go through and edit/rewrite, but for now these are first thoughts.)
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.’”
Other versions of this story say that Jesus was driven into the wilderness by the Spirit, or led into the wilderness by the Spirit, but Luke says that Jesus was led in the wilderness by the Spirit. There’s something wonderful about that—being in the wilderness, seeking God, being tempted, being intentional about discerning what God is calling you to do, filling your days with prayer and fasting…and being led by the Spirit the whole time.
I’m a Presbyterian pastor. When I lived in Scotland, anytime we used the phrase “led by the Spirit” what we meant was “we didn’t have time to plan this out the way we Presbyterians really like to do, so we’re going to be led by the Spirit instead.” I’m pretty sure that isn’t quite what Jesus was doing. Though I doubt he planned to spend forty days fasting in the desert and hanging out with Satan making snide remarks about stones and bread, he probably wasn’t using “led by the Spirit” as a euphemism for “flying by the seat of my pants.” I suspect that he was actually being led, discerning, praying, and resting in God. Isn’t that what Lent is about? This wilderness time—whether we gave something up, took something on, or are doing our best to ignore the season—is a time when we stop pretending we have control over every little bit of our lives, and instead intentionally seek God’s spirit, letting her blow where she will, following where she leads.
Come, Holy Spirit, and lead me where you would have me go. In this season, we are trying to be open to your movement. Blow among us and through us and in us, and show us a new path. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.