Dearly Beloved,
Grace and Peace to you.
         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.

                  —Luke 4.1-2

Dear Gentle God, I am not tempted to turn flint into rye, to be able to fly—or even drift nicely—or to bow down to some guy in a red suit and a tail so the kingdoms of the world worship me. Jesus knew he couldn’t do magic, defy gravity or make people like him. But I do want to have power and to be in control of my life, to avoid suffering or struggle, and to manage what other people think of me. I am tempted to make of things something that they aren’t. I’m tempted to take the comfortable route. I’m tempted to expect that you should protect me from difficulty. And I really want to make people like me.

In this sere land of desire, God, rip these idols from my hands. They do not help me live true life. They take me away from myself. Deprive me of these lies. Strip me naked of my costume and cast me into this wilderness. Let me wander, far from my comfortable mirages and delusional caves. Let me fast from falsehood and distraction. Let me suffer this thirst for you, this deep hunger for my true self, until I surrender everything false and fall into you, who are my heartbeat and my breath. You are the wilderness. You are the Way.

I live not by bread alone, but by the word that comes from your mouth. Give me this life, God, and nothing else. In the silence, in the fasting, in the long struggle, in giving all away, may I find you alone. And may I find myself: blessed without control, and whole without security, and beloved without others’ assent. Life-giving God, walk with me into the desert, and bring me home. Amen.

Deep Blessings,
Pastor Steve

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light

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