The Desert Fathers believed that the wilderness had been created as supremely valuable in the eyes of God precisely because it had no value to men. The wasteland was the land that could never be wasted by men because it offered them nothing. There was nothing to attract them. 5

My life is full of things with “value”. They contribute something to my life. They help me get ahead, help me prosper and find my way to success.

I want to fill my life with things that have “value.” I want to accumulate things that are helpful, that seem beneficial, things that support the illusion that all my schemes and plans are making my life better and improving the world.

In the desert, I discover that all the things I thought had “value” are worthless. They have only kept me focused on the surface of life. They have caused me to remain obsessed with “form” and deepened my determination to make “form” work.

In the desert I learn that I cannot make my life work. I lack the power to make my life truly successful in any deep and meaningful way. The desert demands that I give up my plans, my strategies and my efforts to construct a life that appears to be worthwhile.

I do not know my way in the desert. There are no maps in the desert, no signposts or clear directions. The familiar means by which I am accustomed to navigate through life no longer function in the desert.

In the desert I have to learn to find my way by another guidance system. I have to listen more deeply. I have to discover what is truly valuable and find that which cannot be “wasted by men.”

Jesus called into question all those things I hold to be of value when he answered the rich man who asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?” saying,

‘Why do you call me good? No one is good but God alone.’ (Mark 10:18)

Lent challenges me to look past all those things that seem to have “value” and seek “God alone.”

What is there in my life that is of true and lasting value, that cannot be “wasted by men”?

How do I navigate when the familiar devices for finding my way no longer work?

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