— Henri J.M. Nouwen (The Way of the Heart: Desert Spirituality and Contemporary Ministry)
Heart Check Friday
But I am tired.
I have been in the desert
Facing my own wickedness
Facing evil in the face
Offered easy ways out
Almost took it
but I think I see RELIEF...
Then the devil departed from Him, and behold, angels came and ministered to Him.
Matthew 4:11 (Amplified)
In his book, "The Spirit of Discipline", Dallas Willard suggests that while we think it was during this HOLY SPIRIT training camp of testing, that Jesus was at His weakest as He was starving and alone;
that in fact, the wilderness offered Jesus a "home field" advantage. The solitude and fasting eliminated all the obstacles that could stand in the way of connecting to the Father.
He had great times of Communion and ONENESS with the Father, so by the time the devil showed up, JESUS was so strengthened that the temptations probably were not even tempting to Him because He was FOCUSED on GOD TOTALLY.
You see this is why I "do" lent. This is why many have flocked to the desert throughout the ages.
TO ELIMINATE THE WORLD'S distractions.
But the key in the fasting - is not to focus on what you have given up.
Rather to let that DRAW YOU TO A CLOSER FOCUS on GOD.
Look at what tests you,
When you most able to say NO?
When are you most tempted to give in to your desires or Satan's temptations?
In my own walk - it is when I am focused on what I am giving up, instead of what I am gaining...
So WHY IS YOUR HEART STRENGTHENED IN THE DESERT?
First off as we pointed out the other day - scripture truly tells us that Satan is over the earth ( John 12:31, 14:30 and 2 Cor. 4:4).
Secondly then all the things of this earth, Satan can use to distract you, even things that God created for good.
So then, if you go to the desert (or deny yourself from some of these distractions) you can have much more clear and FOCUSED attention on GOD.
I pray that is what this journey is helping you to do.
But my friends, when you do this (eliminate the other distractions) you are forced if you will to face the greatest obstacles to get near to God.
YOUR OWN HEART
and Satan without all the fluff .....
to quote a previous blog or two.....
However, once you have done this,
The communion is all the sweeter,
and what you need to pray to realize that as you are going through it,
have been with you all along
and you have SENT SATAN AWAY!
and having yielded yourself to God
you can truly drink from the oasis that you find!
The desert you see, is not a BAD place,
It is a place to wrestle with the real issues
and it is a place to meet with GOD
and it is a place to STRENGTHEN YOUR HEART....
Thank you God for sending me to the desert, for being there with me all along, even when I was not aware of it. Thank you for having angels all around and Your ever present words of truth and life- that send the devil packing every time. As our hearts have been checked, cleansed and strengthened - help us better to pray for __________ and even after this Lenten season passes and we are renewed in the glorious celebrations of resurrection, let us NEVER forget the love and lessons of eternal truth that you have shown us in the desert. AMEN!