A Spiritual Tune up in the Wilderness
John Telgren

Have you noticed that immediately after Jesus is baptized, the Spirit comes on him and leads him into the wilderness for a forty day fast? I have been thinking a lot about the wilderness lately. It is a common theme that the wilderness is typically a place where one meets God, as in Exodus.

The wilderness stood in stark contrast to Egypt. No buildings, markets, wells, noise or civilization. Sparse, empty, nothing. When they ran low on food and water, that was it. What must that have felt like? They began to feel that gnawing hunger for the plenty that they enjoyed in Egypt, even though it was in bondage. Why would God lead them into such a place?

In the sparseness of the wilderness, God brought them face to face with a deeper hunger that could not be filled in Egypt. Their "fasting" in the wilderness was to tune them into the greater longing that could only be satisfied in God.

"He humbled you and let you be hungry, and fed you with manna which you did not know, … that He might make you understand that man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by everything that proceeds out of the mouth of the LORD. … Thus you are to know in your heart that the LORD your God was disciplining you just as a man disciplines his son. … Otherwise, you may say in your heart, 'My power and the strength of my hand made me this wealth. But you shall remember the LORD your God, for it is He who is giving you power to make wealth,… (Deut 8:3, 5, 17-18)."

So the wilderness is a place to tune in to God. Maybe that is why the prophet says,

"A voice is calling, "Clear the way for the LORD in the wilderness; Make smooth in the desert a highway for our God. …Then the glory of the LORD will be revealed,… (Isa 40:3-5)."

We ought to take time in the "wilderness." Even Jesus begins his ministry forty days in the wilderness (Luke 4:1-13). The wilderness is a sparse place of fasting, solitude, and silence. It is a place removed from the crutches of life. There is a full emptiness in the wilderness. It is a place to learn discipline, as Israel did. In the wilderness, you come to terms with the emptiness of the world.

Time in the wilderness helps you to see the world with spiritually tuned eyes. Fleshly eyes see fulfillment. Spiritual eyes see emptiness.

In a sense, our whole life here is a wilderness. We are transients. We don't seek fulfillment in this wilderness, there is nothing here.

"Why do you spend money for what is not bread, And your wages for what does not satisfy? Listen carefully to Me, and eat what is good, And delight yourself in abundance (Isa 55:2)."

Consider spending time in the "wilderness" to connect with God. Alone time in fasting, prayer, and solitude can help you to commune deeper with God every day as you work, play, and serve.