Crosses at the Crossroads: The Desert

March 5, 2017

As we begin the journey into the season of Lent, we are invited to look at the crossroads of where faith and belief are confronted with the profound challenge of living faith.  What does that look like in the world?  Today we are invited to run into the desert.

In the desert Jesus is led by the Spirit and is not alone; the presence of the Holy Spirit allows this time of silence and solitude to lead Jesus to listen to the stirrings of the Heavenly Father within Him. It is a time for the Trinity to unite.  So in the crossroads of our lives we must ask the question, in this intersection do we have an awareness of the Trinity?   The desert is that place.

In the desert, as in real life, there is temptation.  The devil does the tempting.  Once we recognize we are being tempted we are able to catch a glimpse of the real evil that exists.  The devil can be lurking on the internet with time absorbed in pornography.  The devil can be on the computer or smart phone as anger begets anger and the ruthlessness of words destroys another person’s dreams and ambitions by hitting the send button.  The devil can be a jealousy that reaches rage and competition overtakes common sense.  At this intersection the recognition of evil is crucial.  Do we really call out the evil of our lives?  Do we get accustomed to a way of life or a habit and no longer identify it as evil?

In the desert Jesus finds the strength from within to overcome temptation.  At this intersection we are invited to look at the spiritual strength question.  Jesus rebukes the devil; He responds with great conviction as to who He is.  He is the Son of God.  In the intersections of our lives, do we lose sight of who God calls us to be?   This involves knowing who we are as children of God. This involves calling upon God’s grace to be active and strong.  It involves relying on the power of God to help us and hold us.

Our crosses, the crosses of our daily lives, lead us to move to the same intersections where we find Jesus.  Our first intersection is to be aware of the Trinity.  There we must never doubt we are being led by the Spirit and believe we are never abandoned. There we must trust that the Almighty Father never goes back on His word.  This intersection is a powerful place to enter a confrontation with our temptations.  Secondly, the unmasking of real temptation and evil involves clarity of heart and soul.  Understanding the what and the why we choose the things of this world and the things that are eternal will unmask the core of what really drives us.  We may face them when we are honest about what they are.  Success, power and money are just a few.  Many exist at our core.  To expose them is to begin to have power over them.

Finally, in this intersection we must find trust.  Real strength comes from real trust.  It is easy to say we believe, but it is different to trust what we say we believe.  Jesus brings both of these together, but it is one of the hardest obstacles to overcome.  We are to put our heads down and believe; believe God has a plan; believe love overcomes evil; believe heaven is for real.

The crosses of our lives have much to teach us. May they always lead us to the intersection where God makes His dwelling.

Reverend John J. Ouper