Lent is for lovers.
Leaving the familiar behind, we are led into the wilderness, the wastelands, the desert. This is where we learn to love again.
Like Moses and Abraham before him, we listen to the call and follow. The city is safe but the wilderness is wild, and death is lurking.
In the desert, we learn that man does not live by bread alone but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of the Father. In the driest, dustiest, desperate places, we discover an oasis of God’s love. The desert makes us lovers.
We become lovers by letting go. A few steps into the desert heat and we realize our extra clothes will smother. In the cool air of the city we found comfort in these clothes: comfort in self-righteousness; comfort in respectability; comfort in the self defenses of jealousy, envy and lust. The city teaches us that watching out for self is the only way we will ever get what we need to survive.
But the desert heat strips away this striving. In a few days, we stand naked before the God of the desert. And discover what Anthony discovered. God’s love is enough.
This is the intoxicating love of the Father, Son and Spirit whirling and swirling through us. In the wilderness, in the wasteland, in the desert, we discover what we thought we lost—Eden.
We realize that we are still in Eden and that the Father still walks in the garden in the cool of the day. We have been blind to His goodness. Deaf to His whispers. Cold to His touch. In our fallenness, we have turned from the light of His goodness and the world has become our burial ground.
Like the walking dead, we stumble through life in a haze of self delusion. The world is opaque. We are blind to the glory and wonder all around us. Rushing in our cars from here to there, we think only of what’s next on the agenda and never pause to breathe in the wonder of life; and never pause to realize every moment is a gift.
We are the walking dead. But in the desert, we stumble toward the cross, so that we might live. In losing our life we find it.
We fast and pray and give to those in need. Not to impress God. But because we realize that bread alone cannot sustain us. We eat because every morsel of food is a gift from the Creator of heaven and earth.
In the desert, the world becomes transparent again. We see through the earth and the sky to the loving hand of God. Everything around us is a gift. And everything is a continuous chorus of praise to the goodness and glory of God.
The desert makes us dangerous lovers. Abandoning all self respectability, we learn to love and God and love man. Love is not and never has been safe. Love is dangerous.
Lovers pray dangerous prayers. Richard Wurmbrand was a lover. He prayed and asked God to convert the prison guard that tortured him. In fact, he prayed that if God called him home, he would wrap his arms around the legs of the prison guard and refuse to enter heaven until God allowed him in as well. Sound heretical? Actually, it’s similar to the prayers of Moses and Paul. Both of whom were willing to be accursed so that Israel might be redeemed.
Jesus lived this prayer. From the cross, He cries out “Father forgive them,” and then bears the weight of their sin.
During this Lent in season, may the Holy Spirit take us past our own righteousness and into the desert of His love.
(I originally wrote this meditation in March 2004. – Doug Floyd)