Reflection: The Wadi Qelt — Letting go of this world’s idols
Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. He fasted forty days and forty nights, and afterwards he was famished. The tempter came and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, com-mand these stones to become loaves of bread.” But he answered, “It is written, ‘One does 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 placed him on the pinnacle of the temple, saying 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, so that you will not dash your foot against a stone.’” Jesus said to him, “Again it is written, ‘Do 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 splendor; and he said to him, “All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me.” Jesus said to him, “Away with you, Satan! for it is written, ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve only him.’”
On our pilgrimage, our group was led into the Wadi Qelt, a seemingly barren and lifeless valley. The only life visi-ble were several Bedouin scavengers and their faithful donkeys. Food, shelter, and comfort were all missing from this expanse of hills and valleys.
I remember climbing a tall point to survey all the wilderness before me. And while I stood so high, I remembered where the devil had taken Jesus. Up so high, I swore I eavesdropped on that ancient conversation: “Worship me like the rest of the world does — seen in power, prestige, wealth, age, success and might.” Yet Jesus showed us the example that we can be beloved and faithful Children of God when we LET GO of chasing relevance, popu-larity, and power. Jesus shows us that the world’s most cherished “idols” cannot keep us filled with God’s word, cleansed in God’s grace, and led by God’s Spirit.
Good and gracious God, may we move toward you in humility, thankfulness, and openness to your life-giving will. Help us let go of this world’s idols. Amen.
Seminarian Kyle Bates is serving as vicar at St. Armands Key Lutheran Church, Sarasota, Florida.