Filled with the Holy Spirit, Jesus returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the desert for forty days, to be tempted by the devil. He ate nothing during those days…
You would think that after eating nothing for forty days the Lord would be at his weakest moment. On the contrary, he was stronger than ever, maybe not physically, but definitely spiritually. He was ready to take on His greatest enemy, the devil, with his greatest asset, His Will.
Navy SEAL training is highly demanding, both physically and mentally. As soon as the instructors break down a young recruit’s body, they go after his mind. It is precisely at this moment that the trainee must decide what he will do: Will I quit or will I keep on going. Believe it or not, this decision has nothing to do with his body or his mind. It has everything to do with his will. Those who actually made the cut decided well before hand that they would either complete the training or die trying. In his book, “Lone Survivor”, ex-Navy SEAL Marcus Luttrell writes, “Quitting was never an option.”
I find it remarkable that the Lord, over two thousand years ago, accomplished what the most expensive training in the world accomplishes today. The Lord knew that if he would be victorious over the devil, then He would have to be victorious over his mind, his heart, his body and his pains. There could be no victory over the devil if His will was not united to His Father’s Will.
To whom or what is your will united to? What do you crave for, search for, desire most, and fight for? Where there is the will, there is a way. But is my will united to God’s Will? Am I craving and searching and fighting for something that will eventually be dust in the wind?
The Will is to keep going. A person’s will is his greatest asset, for experience on the battlefield has demonstrated that no matter how weak a soldier’s body may become, if their will is strong, then the mission will get accomplished.
If, however, a person’s will is not trained, not exercised, and not tested, then it can easily become the mission’s greatest liability. No matter how strong the body is. No matter how intelligent the person may be. If the will is out of shape, then all the best intentions in the world and all the best ideas in the world will come to nothing. NOTHING!
Training of the will. In imitation of the Lord’s forty days in the desert, the Church recommends, every year, forty days of training. Like I have mentioned in previous meditations, this is not necessarily the time for self-improvement. It is the time for self-denial. It’s not the time for exercise routines or new diet plans in order to strengthen one’s heart. It is the time of year to change one’s heart. Lent is that time of year to distance oneself from idols and unite oneself to the one true God: Jesus Christ. We have been called by God to be more forgiving, more loving, more honest, more willing to be more like His Son, our Savior, Jesus Christ.
When the forty days were over, the devil came to him to tempt him. If, after the forty days, I do not come out of this training seeing the uselessness of what I once craved or the depravity of what I once sought, then as soon as the forty days are over, I will be right back into the sweet and comfortable arms of the devil. I will be like the Romans who had all the bread they desired, all the sex they craved for, all the power and titles and glory they died for, and, lest we forget, the world’s blood on their hands. Yes, if I do not change my heart, then I will be comfortably back into the “matrix.” The devil will have free access to run my life through his hands and will.
But if the training is done right, then I should come out of it with a new heart and a new will. Sure, I will be exhausted - physically, not spiritually. But it will feel great to have my life back in the Lord’s hands. But remember. I will not have fought with the devil just yet. Don’t fool yourselves. Training is not the same as battle. The Drill Sergeants shouting at you is not the same as your buddy screaming and crying to you. The Lord did not fight with the devil during His training. He fought with the devil after His training, and so will we, till our death, but not after our resurrection.
Resolution: A change of heart and will. Lord, make my heart and Will more like yours!