Jesus went off alone into the desert. I guess in doing so he did indeed give up the Judean version of chocolate but that was hardly the point. In the wilderness he became still. In the wilderness alone the dark sultry voice of temptation became painfully audible. In the business of life temptation subtly whispers, nudges, and cajoles, but in stillness all its art is stripped away. Naked blatant temptation jumps up “into Jesus’ grill”!
Stillness is an uncomfortable spot. In the spotlight of stillness the currents of busyness cease and I am no longer ‘swept along’ unconsciously. Stillness forces me to choose “My way? Or Yahweh?” Stillness seems like a dangerous place … but it isn’t!
Those currents, those temptations are working at me in my busyness. Unaware I am influenced and mindlessly like Peter bound and taken where I would not go! Stillness is no enemy but a friend and refuge.
In the stillness the Word written speaks clearly to me. In the stillness the Word incarnate bids me follow him insistently. In the stillness I am given resources to meet today’s temptations and to resist the currents swirling around outside the refuge of this contemplation.
Life is not lived solely in the stillness. Jesus did not always inhabit the wilderness. But he sought it often! Healing the sick, declaring the Kingdom and bearing the “sin of the world” took action, and yet it is in stillness even the agonizing stillness of Gethsemane, that he is prepared for action.
Lent reminds us of the need for stillness in our lives. I get a lot of fun out of being active in service with my friends of Street Hope and I know from both observation and hard experience that “If we do not come apart (to be alone with Jesus) we will come apart (break down or burn out)!”
Sometimes it is difficult to “Be still and know that I am God” because we fear grappling with the dark voices but we grapple with them anyway. We grapple with them unaware and unaided. Much better to face these temptations in the company of the one who was in all ways tempted like us and yet resisted! Much better to confront them than to be shaped by them. Much better to be transformed than to conform. This though is done in the stillness. This is done in aloneness in the wilderness. There may not be chocolate there but that is not the point! Wholeness and holiness are found in the stillness.