The desert was created simply to be itself, not to be transformed by men into something else. So too the mountain and the sea. The desert is therefore the logical dwelling place for the man who seeks to be nothing but himself – that is to say, a creature solitary and poor and dependent upon no one but God, with no great projects standing between himself and his Creator. 6

The desert is not a practical place. It defies my attempts to make it into something useful. It stands against my strategies for creating meaning and purpose in life.

Because the desert cannot be put to good use it leaves me free to pursue the true goal of my existence, to become “nothing but myself.”

When I am not in the desert, I want to become all kinds of things. I am surrounded by voices telling me I can make a big impact on the world. I can become “Someone”. I can make a big impression. When I am blinded by the world and the “god of this age” (2 Corinthians 4:4) I lose touch with myself. I start to believe that I can live independently making my own way without reference to any higher power.

In the desert I reconnect with my poverty. I discover the startling truth Jesus proclaimed when he said,

‘Blessed are you who are poor,
for yours is the kingdom of God.’
(Luke 6:20)

In the desert I discover that the kingdoms I have built do not work. My kingdoms have all been constructed out of the material of this world; they are transient; they have no abiding value. They bring no lasting sense of satisfaction, contentment or peace.

The desert has no respect for my attempts to control life or to take control over my circumstances. In the desert I am confronted by my own powerlessness

Lent offers me the opportunity to become aware of my poverty and to open to the possibility of a kingdom built by God, a kingdom that endures within my heart.

How do I respond when I become aware of my poverty?

What happens when the kingdoms of this world I have built begin to fail?

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