I don't believe what I use to believe. I use to believe that to be Christ like I needed to be able to one day fast 40 days and 40 nights while still having the strength to ward of the devil. I also use to believe that Christ's death and resurrection was something to fall back on when I couldn't tell Satan to flee.
I've never fasted for 40 days or 40 nights. I may have fasted a day or two, but I've never gone to the desert to see how long I could make it.
My beliefs have changed. Here is what I now believe: I've chosen a spiritual life path that has lead me to a form of solitude in the desert. It's a path I have a hard time explaining to many who have asked. It's a path I've wandered upon without even realizing it. The wilderness happens to be part of the journey. There has been no going there and waiting for Satan to promise me a new world. There has only been being here and learning that my devil is in the details.
It's wanting to give up when things don't work out. It's wanting to yell at my kids because I'm so exhausted I can't help but feel like I'm going crazy. Or, like this very moment, it's wanting to cry because my daughter just walked out of her bedroom about an hour sooner than what I was expecting this morning. In moments like these Satan feels very close and in my personal space.
Then there is the fasting part. I've been fasting from the belief systems that I've hung onto all my life. I've been fasting from the belief that says to just let Christ take care of the work and when it doesn't work out the way I've planned, blame the emotional hunger pangs. I've been fasting from the belief that I can just fall back on Christ's grace and stay right there. I've been fasting from the belief that if I stay in the wilderness Satan will be ever present tempting me with all the world I could ever want.
I had always imagined Christ just sitting there in the wilderness trying to ward off any feelings of hunger while waiting for Satan to show up. I now imagine him wandering and enjoying the beauty of it all, knowing that one day the fasting and the wandering will come to a close. Satan was like a snake hiding in the bushes. When he showed up, Christ did what he had to do to avoid getting bit.
What I am learning is that in order for me to be Christ like I have to allow myself to wander in the wilderness I am now in. I have to allow myself to enjoy the beauty of it all while experiencing the hunger pangs of fasting. I can't just sit and wait for Christ or for anyone else to take care of it all. I also have to believe that the emptying of myself (i.e., fasting) allows for room to be filled up with new beliefs and with a new and beautiful grace. And if Satan comes tempting, I'll do my best to tell him to flee, knowing that the world he promises doesn't exist. What exists is right before me. It is the wilderness. It's only taken me close to 40 years to figure this out. I hope to have at least another 40 to take it all in.