It is the First Sunday of Lent which reminds me of heading out on a hike and seeing the great expanse all around, feeling the sun on my skin and the enthusiasm in my heart for this journey. I am someone that always welcomes Lent.
Then of course, I get very, very tired. It is about pacing maybe, I’m not sure. Maybe I would be better off if I felt a bit more tempered at the start; this is a life issue for me.
Luke’s Gospel paints a compelling portrait of Jesus and temptation. One thing that I love about this gospel is how Jesus engages with the the tempter – Satan. Jesus neither yields nor flees, he just goes head-to-head and toe-to-toe with evil. It reminds me that as human beings in general, we all struggle with internal authority, which in my way of seeing things is about faith and connection to God. My inner authority is based on the presence of God in my life and directly related to my awareness of that at any moment.
No offense to anyone who feels triumphant in battling their temptations, but my own life has shown me that “willpower” is something that doesn’t work for me. First of all, I almost never succeed with “willpower” and second of all, even if it seems I do, that makes it all about me and not about God.
For me, the rare times when I do triumph is when I am most connected to God. Not that I think it happens all that often. *sigh* No, it does not happen that often at all.
So to see Jesus be connected to what is right and to choose as he does is very edifying if I can stand to sit in silence with it for some time. Yes, I did say if I can stand to sit in silence with it.
Perhaps that is the greatest temptation, to not enter into the silence. That is where our demons reside it seems. The roaring silence can be deafening and terrifying. You may be thinking that I never shut up enough to know about this and you may be right. I do edge up to the chasm every now and then, usually during Lent, so I am not completely unfamiliar with it.
Jesus knows better, he headed out there for those 40 days to confront the truth that tells us that bread, power and testing God were no way to redemption. If that doesn’t invite some thought about all of our lives, I don’t know what will.
I often wonder if Christ's dealings with the tempter were actual or internal. He knew He could turn stones to bread, that angels would save Him if He leapt off a cliff, that He could seize the kingdoms of the world on command. Knowing He had all this power surely created profound inner struggles to submit to God's will rather than do what was easiest for Him.And I think that's what happens in the roaring silence. We wrestle with what we'd rather think and do versus what God asks of us. Somewhere in all our thoughts and confusion, we hear His voice, too.I'm so grateful for you, Fran. What you say here is a powerful reminder to listen closely to the silence.
Fran, I like very much your approach to Jesus vs Satan, neither yielding nor fleeing…I also agree with your description of willpower, not working, and being more about me than Godde.Our demons undoubtedly are in the silence. Don't they come up at night when my defenses are down?As to the silence, I have a hunch that some personality types find it easier than others. Also at which stage of my life am I?As I am now retired, silence has a way of finding me :-)Thanks for this. Blessings.d
Zoomed in on your zooming in on "willpower" which, I agree, presumes our will is ultimately more powerful than God's. The notion, too, seems to gut faith of its value. As for silence, I'm a big fan of it…remarkable considering how much I can talk, eh? Fortunately, my demons seem to make it through the clamor. Oh joy. xx
You're right about the greatest temptation being the unwillingness to enter into silence with God. Why do I resist when I am blessed (sometimes) when I do? Giving up the illusion of willpower is yet another surrender that keeps coming back to haunt me. Over and over.
"Perhaps that is the greatest temptation, to not enter into the silence."Oh, that hits home with me. I'm trying to journal more this Lent, which is one way that I'm trying to enter more into the silence. I found this post encouraging. Thanks.