One of the great joys of my life was living in Corpus Christi, Texas. We lived there 12 years and experienced great joy and friendship. We were blessed beyond measure. Our lives were transformed. Corpus Christi is gifted geographically and sits right on the Gulf of Mexico and one of its most beautiful spots is aptly named Ocean Drive. Ocean Drive holds many, many memories for me. One of the dearest though is the memory of sitting at the waters edge. On many occasions I would phone a friend and ask her, "Can you meet me at the water?" That one phrase told her all she needed to know and she would come. There were days when the waves were so large that my car would easily be sprayed with the surf and there were days when all was calm and flat. I learned that for my soul it really didn't matter which waves I experienced as it was ALL about the water...The moving, life-giving water.
We've been living in the desert for several weeks now. And the desert of Lent has begun to teach me about my thirst. It's helping me recognize how thirsty I really am. The dry desert and hot sun force our thirst. These are hard days. Jesus must have been thirsty in those desert days. Did Jesus need to go into the desert for 40 days? Or did He go for me and you? What was He modeling for us?
As I've read and reread the verses regarding Jesus entering the desert, I'm interested to read that Jesus went directly from his water baptism to the desert.
As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him. And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.” Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. Matthew 3:16-4:1
Jesus came from his baptism where He experienced the Spirit of God descending on Him. He experienced words of affirmation from His Father. And then Jesus willingly walked, as led by the Spirit, into the desert.
I've been fooled into thinking that the journey of my life SHOULD BE desert-free. I've been fooled into thinking that hot, desert days are those you keep hidden, those you keep buried deep inside. BUT, the reality, according to these few verses is that as redeemed, newly washed Christ-followers we are to willingly follow the Spirit into the desert. For it is in the desert, and for some ONLY in the desert, that God can refine us and remind us of our enormous need and His enormous ability to provide what we most desire. And because I wear blinders most of the time it takes a desert experience for me to realize my great need. The desert strips me down. The desert makes me so very thirsty.
Regardless of success, I am thirsty. Regardless of my wonderful marriage, I am thirsty. Regardless of beautiful children, I am thirsty. Regardless of plenty, I am thirsty. What are the people, places and things vying to falsely quench my thirst?
Jesus modeled desert days for us. He walked from Holy water into the desert--to defeating the enemy--to living a Holy life--to calling us to the Water. He shows us that we will have many days that feel like the high desert. Our job is to lean-in to those days and let Him lead and refine us. And then, to drink deeply from His oasis...For there is always an oasis in the desert. “Come!” Let the one who is thirsty come; and let the one who wishes take the free gift of the water of life." Rev. 22:17
Will you meet me at the water?
A psalm of David. When he was in the Desert of Judah.
You, God, are my God,
earnestly I seek you;
I thirst for you,
my whole being longs for you,
in a dry and parched land
where there is no water.