You may remember my numerous references to Lectio Divina as a way of praying with Scripture and being attentive to what the Holy Spirit is saying to us. As I prayed with today’s first reading, this is the line that stood out to me:
“The people that escaped the sword have found favor in the desert.”
For me at least, I associate “the desert” with Lent, and most especially with fasting. The thing about the desert is that there’s not a whole lot going on… There’s not a lot to distract someone, there’s not a lot that you keep with you. That’s why the early ascetics retreated to the desert. The desert isn’t a place of comfort or indulgence, it takes discipline and abandonment to survive.
The people have found favor in the desert. Do we not feel spiritually enriched in Lent? I believe it’s because we make the time and create the space to encounter God more readily during Lent than in any other time. We make the time, and we also clear our hearts of the things that are taking up too much space (or at least we’re supposed to). That’s why I’m a big fan of giving up things like social media for Lent. I can waste hours on Facebook if I’m not diligent about my self-control.
Fasting, being in the desert, is critical for our spiritual lives not only because it creates space for God, but because we’re slowly teaching ourselves that there’s something more important that what we want and when we want it. It builds discipline like a muscle. It teaches us what’s really important. This week, I’ve learned that Doritos aren’t important haha, and my body is super happy about it.
You know how much I love coffee, but sometimes I have to ask myself if I love coffee more than I love Jesus. In my heart of hearts I obviously know that the answer is a resounding no, but sometimes I treat coffee like an idol! I want it and so I’ll spend money on it that should be better spent elsewhere. I want it and so I’ll procrastinate on what I should actually be doing just so that I can go get some of that sweet nectar of life. The same is true of snacking. Do I snack because I’m bored? To fill a hole/because I’m sad? Or do I snack because I actually need sustenance. Either way, to deny myself my mid-afternoon mindless half hour of snacking I’m teaching myself that I don’t need to get whatever I want.
Moral of the story is, the Lord favors those in the desert. So create a desert in your own life. He’ll be the living water for you.
-Amanda Benner, Director of Evangelization