(Edited and posted again from 2017 bulletin board)
We are almost through the Holy Lent season and we should not forget the bases of this fast, which is the story of our Savior fasting. When we read The Gospel of Matthew chapter 3 we learn Christ was Led up by the Spirit to go into the wilderness and fasted 40 days and 40 nights; however, we usually over-read “led up into the wilderness” part and focus on the temptations Christ overcame. Why did Christ go into the wilderness to be tempted? Is there not enough temptation in Galilee that He had to go out of the city? Is there anything significant about the wilderness? We will try to understand what this wilderness is. Our Heart The astounding spiritual facts of Christ’s coming is not to change the laws of Moses but rather to transform something that is far more eternal, our hearts. Initially, the prophets came into the wilderness (our heart) to teach repentance which was not effective without Christ being in it. This is seen by John the Baptist (Matthew 3:1). Christ, however, came into the wilderness (our heart) to be “IN” the wilderness and defeat the temptation that used to rule and ruin our hearts. Hence, repentance and overcoming trials is only achievable when Jesus works within us through the power of the Holy Spirit. As there is no fruit bearing life in the wilderness without being nurtured by water, there will not be the fruit of the Spirit (repentance, forgiveness, humility, love and more) without the living water of Christ’s very being flowing into the wilderness of our heart that is barren and dead in sin. There are different kinds of tares and weeds that would ruin a good seed. Similarly, if our heart is not nurtured with eternal water, it will grow weed of sin and will be hard to pull. But Christ came into the wilderness to pull out the weed of sin. God’s Canvas The wilderness is where the Divine artist (God) “draws” His works. It is there where we experience God’s creation and find Him through those creations and His living words. When we are usually surrounded by worldly sceneries, it is hard to admire God's work and say "the God who created all this and maintains all this will not forsake me". Those who often travel outside of a city to enjoy hiking or mountain climbing will discover and have the opportunity for a collective mind to focus on him. As the psalmist, David said, “The mountains, the waterfalls, the lakes, and the trees are His hand’s work that reveal His glory” (Psalm 19:1). Since the devil knows this, he will attempt to preoccupy us with secular worries. For such reasons, our Church fathers emphasize the significance of outdoor meditation in the case of the story in Matthew chapter 3, the wilderness.
Quite Time This is a strange concept for many of us. Who in the right mind would want to be alone? You might say "I do." No no! Alone means without your computer, your phone or your headphone. See how strange that seems! But wilderness is where we don't have anyone to talk to and we actually listen when our heart and God conversate. Intentional time off from the world will not only lead you to see God's work but to listen to what He has to say to you. Take time to sit by yourself in a surrounding that is wilderness from noise and people. Contemplate what you have read before or God's intervention in your life. And strive to break your defiant wilderness heart by escaping to the wilderness from clatter and making Christ Jesus the only voice to here and the only Lord to dwell in it.