Jesus was tempted in the wilderness, but even he came out of a 40-day fast renewed to do his Father’s will. Before our savior walked the earth, Elijah and Moses spent 40 days in the desert and emerged changed. Elijah was still and heard God. Moses spent 40 days and 40 nights with the Lord on Mount Sinai and emerged with the Ten Commandments and the peace that comes with obedience.
I’ve thought before about how God leads us through dry seasons and we emerge from our own desert changed. The dry season teaches us to trust our Guide to get us to the other side. I know because God led Moses and Elijah and his own Son out of their wildernesses and into renewed life. And I know because I’ve been in the wilderness, a dry place where I was yearning for more. And, you know, God was faithful to me, just like he was to Mose, Elijah and Jesus.
Reminders of God’s faithfulness help sustain me in ordinary, everyday life because he called me to live this life for His glory. I don’t want to forget who got me here and who will take me through each season that follows. And, really, I don’t need to grumble about life like the Israelites did.
… Remember how the LORD your God led you all the way in the wilderness these forty years, to humble and test you in order to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep his commands. He humbled you, causing you to hunger and then feeding you with manna, which neither you nor your ancestors had known, to teach you that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD. …
Observe the commands of the LORD your God, walking in obedience to him and revering him. For the LORD your God is bringing you into a good land — a land with brooks, streams, and deep springs gushing out into the valleys and hills; a land with wheat and barley, vines and fig trees, pomegranates, olive oil and honey; a land where bread will not be scarce and you will lack nothing …
–From Deuteronomy 8
Today is Ash Wednesday, a ceremonial beginning to the Lenten season leading up to Easter. While I don’t attend a church (Catholic, Lutheran, Methodist, etc.) that formally participates in the Lenten season, God lead me to sacrifice something that hinders me from better serving Him during these 40 days (actually 47 counting today, Easter and all the Sundays between) before we celebrate the way Jesus obeyed his Father in his death on the cross and then stunned the world by rising from the tomb.
I’m not going to eat desserts for the coming 47 days.
Desserts aren’t evil. But I’d be better without then. And I need God to help me do without them. Call them an addiction. Call them luxuries. Call them distractions. At different times, desserts are these things to me.
When I want dessert, I’ll thing about all the good things God has given me, I’ll pray to God to be stronger and more disciplined and I’ll ask God to help me grumble less and rejoice more. Desserts are a mixed blessing for a Type 1 diabetic anyway. I’m trusting God to teach me something in these next 47 days. And I’ll emerge from this dessert-free desert changed.