Week 5 of Lent: Into the Wilderness...

I feel like I don’t know if I’m coming or going right now. There are so many things I feel like I want to process and think about and pray about but the last week has been too busy to do much of anything but hang on. We spent the weekend in NYC and have spent the last two days in Orlando hanging out with friends. Tomorrow we will spend all day at Disney World and then Thursday we will spend all day traveling to Phoenix (with 2 layovers it will be a 12 hour flight).

Lent feels like it’s been put on hold. I woke up this morning and realized that tomorrow starts another week of Lent (I’ve been starting my weeks on Wednesday as Lent itself starts on Wednesday) and I realized that I didn’t spend nearly the time I wanted to in thinking and praying about the church. The few times I did have time to pray for the church I really struggled with it… but I’m still processing why. This week Tara’s focus for the week is to pray for the “rest of the world” – to look outwardly at the places in the world that we don’t have direct contact with; that are foreign and different and pray for the global community as a whole.

As I laid in bed this morning thinking about how little I really did focus on last week’s prayer topic and thinking about the schedule I will have the next few days and for the next few weeks I felt Lent slipping away from me. God felt far away. I didn’t feel like praying – didn’t feel like praying for me or those I knew let alone for such all encompassing topics as the church or the world. God seemed silent. I felt like I hadn’t seen him much in my conversations or encounters lately and like I didn’t have the time to personally seek him out in my hectic travels… But, then I realized something… What I was feeling felt like it didn’t fit with Lent, but it was in fact the very essence of Lent. I had wanted Lent to be this journey of repairing brokenness, this journey of spending devoted time in prayer, this journey of sensing God’s presence and feeling close with him… but that’s not really Lent – Lent is wilderness – Lent is brokenness – Lent is loneliness – Lent is silence – Lent is God’s silence as well as mine. The Biblical story that Lent symbolizes is that of Christ’s temptation in the wilderness, the desert. It’s not a story of peace and tranquil quality time with God. It’s a story where the main character finds himself alone and lonely, without food and hungry – God is not around (at least not noticeably) instead there are temptations to face and Christ must cling to those worlds which God had spoken in the past because at the time God was silent.

Lord, today I am weary. My head hurts, I am in need of a good cry, I’m tired and I feel sick and you seem far off and silent. Lord, give me strength to persevere. Give me strength to pray for those who I cannot see, who I may never see. To pray for my brothers and sisters around the world and remember that like me they too are on a journey and like me they often find themselves tempted and tired and God seems far off and at times not real at all. Some of them have more than I have and some have much, much less than me, but we are not that different. Help me to not get so wrapped up in my own struggles and weariness that I forget the friend at my side, the neighbor down the street, or the stranger half way around the world. Teach me to pray, Lord. Teach me to pray even when I don’t feel like praying, even when you feel far off, even when I’m tired, even when I’m busy, teach me to turn to you and pray in the midst of the wilderness. In Jesus name, amen.

Rejoicing in the journey - Beth Stedman