my soul wanted you: choosing desire over deprivation this Lent

Several years ago I stood by the Jordan River, where Jesus was baptized before he began his ministry.  On the banks of the river there’s a long wall where Mark 1:11 is written in at least 100 languages.  In English the verse reads, “And a voice came from heaven, 'You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased'.”


Our tour guide was Israeli, so he took us to the Hebrew translation of the verse.  He said in Hebrew, the verse reads, “You are my son.  My soul wanted you.”

My soul wanted you.

I waded into the river, letting the cool water wash over my feet as the words played again and again in my head.

My soul wanted you.

After his baptism, where the skies parted and the dove appeared and these words echoed from the heavens, Jesus went into the desert where he faced 40 days of temptation.  Forty days of deprivation, loneliness, hunger and thirst.

But his wilderness experience was about more than deprivation.  Ultimately, it was about desire.

Yes, he was hungry but he wanted Divine sustenance more.  Yes, he was thirsty, but he was willing to wait for the Spring of Living Water he would later offer to the woman at the well.  Yes, he felt called to do something great in this world, but he was willing to listen to his heavenly Parent instead of his pride.

My soul wanted you, the Divine Parent says to the Child at the river.

My soul wants you, too, the Child says to the Divine Parent, over and over again, for the forty days it took the wilderness to do its work.

Jesus would emerge from that wilderness with the clarity he needed to begin his ministry, with the determination he needed to proclaim the Good News again and again, with the faith it would take to lay down his life, confident that Resurrection was waiting on the other side of the cross.  

More than two thousand years later, you and I are standing on the edge of a 40-day experience we call Lent.

In many ways, Lent can feel like Jesus’ experience of the wilderness.  Forty days of deprivation, of waiting, of wanting.  Forty days of trusting that in spite of the pain and death we see around us, the hope of Resurrection is just as true now as it ever was.

As we enter Lent, may we remember that the next forty days are not only about deprivation, they’re about intense desire.

During the next forty days, may we create the stillness and the silence to hear the Voice that whispers to us, I created you, my precious child, because my soul wanted you.  

And may we say, over and over again for the 40 days (and the lifetime) it takes us to reach the Resurrection, My soul wants You, too.