This past week, as many of you have been aware, Eleanor has been sick. Thank you by the way for all your calls, texts, and notes checking in on her! During her illness, as we waited for doctors, nurses, and eventually for her illness to disappear, we got to watch a little more television than normal. It was one way to keep Eleanor calm while she sat and waited. One show I caught a little bit of was Dual Survival on the Discovery Channel. It is a wilderness survival show where two guys go to some of the more extreme wilderness situations. They survive for a prolonged period of time while at the same time teaching viewers ways to stay alive if ever in these situations.
One of the things that struck me in the show is how both guys change over the course of the episodes. At times they disagree with one another on the best course of action. At other times they work together well to build shelter and find food. Even more striking is to see how their relationship changes and identities change. I am sure if we were to watch the whole season, we would notice drastic changes in identity. They likely have varied views having been out in the wilderness for so long. Their views on the world, its challenges, and possibilities would have shifted.
In a similar way, the season of Lent acts as this time for us. The 40 day journey we have been in the midst of as we head toward Easter is meant to mirror Jesus’ 40 days in the wilderness after his baptism. It was during this time Jesus was both tested as well as confirmed for his mission of redemption. His mission became clearer and his fortitude cemented.
All said, the wilderness is a place of formation. While challenging, it has the potential to draw us closer to one another and to God. We’ve all had wilderness moments. We’ve experienced those challenging moments in life in which diagnosis, death, illness, difficulty, or unexpected events cause us to dig deeper or better yet, reach higher. It is in those moments our identity in God is forged. Of course, not many want to enter the wilderness willingly. And yet, Lent continues to call us to challenge ourselves and our spiritual lives. It asks us to do the hard work of diving deeper into who Jesus is and how he redeems us. It asks us to be honest about our needs and about our failures.
Lent is a journey into the wilderness of God. In this wilderness, we are not alone. God walks with us. While we examine our incompleteness, we look forward to when God makes us complete. We walk in the wilderness awaiting the promise of Easter. As you continue the Lenten journey, may your identity in God continue to unfold and be formed.