Temptation and Word

I wrote this meditation at a Lay Servants Teach Adults class at Salem United Methodist Church on January 27, 2010. I was leading a study on Luke 4:1-13 as my teaching assignment. I included an exercise for 14 adults, most over 45 years old, to write an impromptu poem inspired by the text. After some initial protests, all of them participated with enthusiasm. For many of us, the small published book of the poetry created that night is a cherished possession.

It seems like a good time to publish this poem again.

First, here is the passage we were studying, from the NIV translation:

Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, left the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness, where for forty days he was tempted by the devil. He ate nothing during those days, and at the end of them he was hungry.

The devil said to him, “If you are the Son of God, tell this stone to become bread.”

Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone.’”

The devil led him up to a high place and showed him in an instant all the kingdoms of the world.  And he said to him, “I will give you all their authority and splendor; it has been given to me, and I can give it to anyone I want to. If you worship me, it will all be yours.”

Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God and serve him only.’”

The devil led him to Jerusalem and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. “If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down from here.  For it is written:

“‘He will command his angels concerning you    to guard you carefully;  they will lift you up in their hands,    so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.’”

Jesus answered, “It is said: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’”

When the devil had finished all this tempting, he left him until an opportune time.

Temptation and Word

Lake Michigan at South Shore Milwaukee

Lumbering and lazing along Lake Michigan,
Alone on an early morning path I’ve walked
Many days alone and many days in community,
Today alone,
My morning podcasts wind and wire ’round me,
Up to my ears–then tunneling toward mind and soul.
Money Matters, composers of the day, and
Deuteronomy on audio, Global Economics and
High Tech and political gabbing.

I listen to Deuteronomy,
Then pause the audio,
Lunging, leaping some, lifting my walk intensity.

I pause to pray and listen before Luke.
I lift my pace and lift my eyes,
Not a desert here but lonely lake this morning, as the
Sun shines embers over the lake,
Lonely, glistening, living Son.

My thoughts shift,
Dreams of money,
Lusts, power-craving.
Ego? Is it lonely, lack-of-confidence?
Can I respond with Your Word?
What did I miss in Deuteronomy today? I drifted.
Was it there for me, and I missed it?

That Me-First-Feeling again: How can I reply?
I laze again, lessen my pace,
You grant the Wisdom of Your Word
When I stop,
When I listen,
When I love Your Word.

—-Tom Bolton, Salem, WI, January 27, 2010


About Tom Bolton

I'm a Husband and Dad, an Enterprise Systems Manager at the City of Milwaukee, and a Disciple and Lay Servant at First United Methodist of West Allis. I love working beside young people. As I study the Bible, sometimes I feel moved to work through my understanding by writing poetry. I also am going through a process to discern my calling, and to learn more about Christian Leadership. Sometimes I just feel like writing about something that grabs my attention too.
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