Leave | Matthew 4:1-11
Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. And after fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. And the tempter came and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.” But he answered, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” Then the devil took him to the holy city and set him on the pinnacle of the temple and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down, for it is written, ‘He will command his angels concerning you,’ and ‘On their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone.’” Jesus said to him, “Again it is written, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.’” Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. And he said to him, “All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me.” Then Jesus said to him, “Be gone, Satan! For it is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God and him only shall you serve.’” Then the devil left him, and behold, angels came and were ministering to him. Matthew 4:1-11 |ESV
Spiritual life is about recognizing and embracing rhythms. There is a time to gather stones, and a time to cast away stones, the wise Preacher in Ecclesiastes tells us (see Ecclesiastes 3). There’s a time to gather at the table of food and fellowship, and a time to leave it. Jesus was accused of being a glutton, a drunk, and a friend of tax collectors and sinners. This means that he ate and enjoyed the company of others (even unsavory others). A lot. But he also fasted for forty days and nights in the solitude and silence of the wilderness where his only company for a month were the wild animals (and, of course, angels, and Satan put in an appearance too). The key to the spiritual disciplines is sensing the season for the alternating movements of various practices, rather than mechanistically engaging in this or that because it’s what I do or what I’m supposed to do or what everyone else says to do. Scot McKnight in his book Fasting (one of the better ones I’ve seen) writes that “fasting is the natural, inevitable response of a person to a grievous sacred moment in life.” This extends to all the practices involved in “leaving.” We leave the table, we walk away from company, we turn off the music because we realize something significant has happened – a “grievous sacred moment.” If we had been with Jesus at his baptism in that river, seeing the Dove and hearing the Voice, we might have handed him a towel and called for a celebratory party when he emerged from the river. The Spirit within him impressed and then impelled him otherwise. This was a “grievous sacred moment” to which the only response for him was to walk away from the river, away from potential company, away from the table, away from conversation and through leaving enter a wilderness that in its barrenness filled his body, soul, and spirit in a way no table ever could. We need to learn to leave.
Just how intimidated are you at the thought of “leaving” – whether of leaving the table, leaving company, or leaving noise? Or does this sound inviting? Why?
Lord, lead me into healthy, natural rhythms of engaging and disengaging from food, fellowship, and sound. Open my eyes and my heart to seek and receive the treasures buried in both fields. Teach me how and when to leave.
Perhaps rather than encouraging you to fast for a morning I can encourage you to stay tuned for a “grievous sacred moment” this week – and to let yourself respond accordingly by appropriately leaving.
For all of this week’s resources for this new series on Spiritual Disciplines including this week’s DG video, check out the Vineyard website.