By Pastor Dean Schultz
Would you describe yourself as a driven person?
Perhaps you are driven to achieve specific goals in the areas of marriage, family, career, education, finances, health, travel, or spiritual growth. Or you may be driven by fear, resentment, anger, jealously, greed, some form of addiction, an unquenchable need for affirmation, or desire to acquire things, things, and more things to anesthetize the emotional pain you are experiencing due to loneliness, a broken marriage or family relationship, or the loss of a loved one.
May I encourage you with the fact that Jesus knew what it was like to be driven? Followinghis baptism, our Lord Jesus Christ was driven by the Holy Spirit into the desert wilderness to be tempted by Satan for 40 days and nights. The Greek word for driven (ekballei) essentially means to be led with compelling pressure that one cannot resist. In this case, it was part of our Savior’s preparation to fulfill the ministry that he had received from our Holy Father in heaven.
Are you willing to be driven (led) by the Holy Spirit with Christ into the Lenten desert that God has providentially prepared to help equip you to overcome the spiritual warfare that seeks to rob you of your identity in Christ?
Our desert is that sacred place where we meet with our risen Savior in solitude. It is there where we invite the Holy Spirit to remove the “scaffolding” around our lives upon which we can subconsciously construct our identity. The scaffolding that I am speaking of can include our titles, degrees, economic status, political persuasions, house, cars, appearance, fashions, investments, our need to have the latest and greatest in technology or being included in what we perceive to be the most desirable social gatherings in our community. What happens if any or all these areas that can shape our identity are suddenly removed from our lives? Who are we then?
The Apostle Paul reminds us that our identity is to be in Christ alone when he declares, “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me” (Galatians 2:20).
The Lenten desert of solitude invites you and me to grow in our understanding of what it means to be crucified with Christ by tearing down any identity-related scaffolding that we may have subconsciously built around our lives which keeps others from seeing Christ in us the hope of glory (Colossians 1:27).
When we hear the word “solitude,” we often think about a time of getting alone with God to refresh. However, in the ancient Church, the Desert Fathers and Mothers viewed solitude as a transformative encounter to grow in union with the living God, where the scaffolding of our world-shaped identity is stripped away! As this supernatural stripping occurs through fasting, confession, repentance, and a fresh empowering of the Holy Spirit, we experience a spiritual crucifixion that reconfigures us to find our identity in Christ alone!
May I encourage you to set aside some sacred times in the coming days to be driven into your Lenten desert with paper and pen in hand as we journey toward Easter? This can be a quiet place in your home, at a picnic table in a park, in the nave at CHS, or some other quiet place. I would recommend meditating on Psalm 51. Then read Ephesians chapter 1! Write down your impressions as you invite the Holy Spirit to dismantle any “scaffolding” in your life so that your identity may be found in “Christ alone”! +