Have you ever felt as if your life is too busy or crazy? Has this craziness ever left you feeling tired, overwhelmed or stressed? Has it ever hurt your relationship with family, friends, or most importantly, God?
I think at different points in our lives, we all have stretches where this happens to us. We take on too many responsibilities and activities so that our daily schedules become planned at every moment of the day. Between school, work, chores, family obligations, friends, and volunteering (and maybe some Netflix), we become more and more focused on completing these tasks that sometimes we forget other important things in our lives, such as our relationship with God. The activities that we fill our day with fill our hearts and souls, but they can leave us feeling empty when the day draws to a close. In our choices and activities, we keep searching for something to fill that void, but the only thing that can is God. As St. Augustine of Hippo states, “Our hearts are restless until they rest in You.”
This leads to the question, “How can we step back from our daily tasks to foster our relationship with God?” One answer to this comes from this past Sunday’s Gospel reading. It states, “The Spirit drove Jesus out into the desert, and he remained in the desert for forty days, tempted by Satan.” In this verse, we see Jesus leaving the city and remaining in a desert alone for forty days. During this time, Jesus probably fasted and prayed in order to prepare himself for his mission on Earth.
Before relating this to our lives, let’s first imagine a desert. It’s a dry and arid landscape. There’s not much vegetation or shade to sit and relax in. The desert can seem unending with miles and miles of sand in all directions. The sun beats down mercilessly. Other than the sand and a few cacti, the desert is fairly empty. A person out in the desert for a long period of time can become very thirsty and hungry. Can you imagine living in these conditions for forty days by yourself? Where would you get your food and water? Where could you shelter yourself from the sun? All in all, living in the desert for forty days sounds like a desperate situation.
Despite all this, going into the desert is exactly what Jesus is inviting us to do this lent. He is inviting us to step back from our daily lives and routines to live more simply. He is calling us out of the comfort of our daily lives into a figurative desert so that we can hunger and thirst for Him. He calls us out there so that we can learn how to more fully rely on Him and all that He provides us. With some of the distractions out of our lives, it makes it easier for us to recognize Him in our daily lives.
So as you begin your Lenten journey, don’t be afraid to let go of the things holding you back from God. He wants to fill and satisfy your hunger and thirst.