This Present Wilderness
I’m preaching on Hebrews 3 this coming Sunday at Christ the King Presbyterian Church. The passage is an important one, providing the central metaphor for the entire exhortation of this wonderful book, and as such it had a prominent place in my PhD dissertation.
One of the big struggles with this passage is that when we think of “the wilderness” we naturally think of something other than our normal experience. We live in a world of microwaves and digital watches, which, in the words of Douglas Adams, still seem like “a pretty neat idea.” No wilderness here. Technology is our savior from wilderness wandering; science is our Great High Priest.
But of course that’s not true. Every aspect of our Christian Life is a wilderness, whether or not you own a microwave or a smartwatch.
Which is why I liked this poem by Holly Ordway.
Temptation in the Wired Wilderness
by Holly Ordway
Our Lord spent forty days and forty nights
Resisting Satan in the wilderness.
We picture barren rocks and sand; we might
Add in a scrubby tree or two. I guess
That’s where temptation ought to come, so we
Can see it from at least a mile away,
And be prepared, with Bibles, church retreats,
And exhortations to stand firm.
Instead it wounds with cuts too small to see,
In this our wired wilderness. We play
And work in deserts of the digital:
Abuzz with locust-noise of clicks and tweets
And filled with lonely crowds. Our enemy
Is faced and fought right here, or not at all.