What I'm Reading Today: Matthew 4
Wouldn't you know that today's reading would contain not one, but two issues I wrestled with during the past week. Let me take a moment and explore each issue with you.
The first issue I faced had to do with the notion of temptations. As the first temptation contained in today's reading reminds us, temptations aren't things that occur simply in the abstract: they often take place in very specific circumstances. For Jesus - a person who had just fasted for 40 days - temptation came in the form of an opportunity to satisfy his hunger. For me, temptation came in another very real form. As I spent the past week in Denver (the community in which I lived and ministered for the previous 10 years), more than one person came up to me and asked, "Do you regret your decision to leave Colorado? Would you like to come back?"
While that question wasn't intended to be traumatic, it did tug on my heart strings a bit as I thought about all the loving and transformative relationships I formed there. Needless to say I can totally relate to how Jesus must have felt when "the Devil" hit him in one of his most tender spots.
That tempting issue led me to the second theme from today's reading: the issue of call. In today's reading, we read of not one but two different call stories. The first call story involved Simon & Andrew while the second involved James & John. In both instances the sets of brothers responded to Jesus' call by setting aside personal circumstances in order to answer that call.
Lot's of folks wonder how Simon, Andrew, James & John were able to do that.
I can't answer for those brothers, but I can answer for myself. As hard as it is to walk away from situations that are stable and loving, there's one thing that makes a person able to do that. Certainty that there is a reason why God is calling you to a new place. As much as I LOVED my time in Denver reconnecting with many of my beloved friends, I walked away from my vacation with a clearer sense of why God called me to Los Angeles. That was a wonderful and surprising benefit of my vacation!
I don't know if my words of reflection today offered in the context of my vacation spoke to you and your circumstance or not. I would ask you to consider in what area/areas of your life are you most susceptible to temptation? Once you find that area, I would encourage you to reflect on the ways in which your sense of call/purpose in life has helped you rise to the occasion and do what you needed to - no matter how difficult it was to answer your call.
Til next time...