Last Sunday, guest speaker Tamara Boynton spoke about being in the wilderness, referencing the temptation of Jesus in the wilderness in Luke 4. Tamara shared that being in the wilderness is always difficult, but it is an opportunity for us to experience growth and change in our lives. Sometimes it might feel like it’s easier just to quit, to sit down and just melt away into the hot sun and arid land.
Have you ever been in the wilderness? Not a time of personal trial, but the literal wilderness, such as a desert or barren landscape? Each summer I travel to Moab, UT with friends to mountain bike. Moab is a beautiful and desolate part of the country. It is truly the wilderness; rocks, sand, and cacti make up most of the landscape. The days are hot and dry. It’s not a place most people would choose to be for fun.
Last summer, my friends and I ventured out on a long, long mountain bike trail of nearly 30 miles. We got dropped off by a shuttle at 11,000 feet and proceeded to ride the long, dusty, dangerous, and painful trail back to Moab. It was brutal. The trail was treacherous with sheer cliffs, big boulders, and sharp curves. I fell many times. We’d stop every mile or two and I’d ask how far we’d come. Still another 20, 15 miles,10 miles. I was basically out of water by then and physically exhausted, but more so mentally exhausted from trying to navigate the grueling terrain.
After taking yet another hard fall and finding only drops of water remaining in my pack, I sat down in disgust. My friends were far ahead and I didn’t care. I wanted to quit right then and there. But who was going to come get me? I was still out in the middle of nowhere. What other option did I have other than to continue? So it is in life, we must continue even still.
Lent is about being in the wilderness and reminding us to keep going, Whether that wilderness be in our personal lives, our family, or our church sometimes we might just feel like quitting. But, even if we sit for a minute to catch out breath, we must get back up or else we will waste away. Eventually, I made it back to town and got the water I desperately sought and I found I had within me what I needed to make it through. After a few days of recovery, I was proud to say I had completed the Whole Enchilada trail!
We might be in the wilderness, but we must keep going. No matter what is happening in our lives, thanks to the Spirit of God within us, we have what we need to make it through. And we’ll find that making it through the wilderness will be worth it in the end. God will get us through, we just have to keep going. Some day soon, we’ll be able to say, “I completed my wilderness trail.” It will be a time of growth, of accomplishment, of vibrancy–and we’ll ultimately be thankful to God for the opportunity to go through the wilderness and experience the benefits of the time of testing.