Are you willing to be driven into the wilderness?
When we went to the Holy Land in January one of the things I looked forward to sharing with our group the most was the “wilderness.” It was where Jesus was driven by the Holy Spirit after his baptism in the Jordan River.
Frankly, I’ll never forget the breathtaking moment five years ago when my group and I rounded the curve in our bus and there it was . . . . this vast expanse of nothingness. Just HUGE barren mountains . . . as far as the eye could see.
I wanted our group to “feel” that. To get that when Jesus was there, it had to be overwhelming and even scary. Yet, that is where he faced his temptations and he withstood every one. And we have the power to do the same.
The bus stopped before we rounded the final curve. We were encouraged to get a snack, hug the camel, go shopping for a few minutes, and “look around at the wilderness.”
I didn’t understand because we were not IN the wilderness. We could see it ahead, but we weren’t there yet! I approached our guide and asked if we were going to take the trail up the mountain and actually GO into the wilderness. She shared that the pastor that set the itinerary didn’t want to make that walk.
I doubt ANY of us WANT to go to the wilderness. Yet, it is in the wilderness that God does some of God’s greatest work!
The Gospel of Mark uses a strong Greek verb to say that the Spirit “drove” Jesus into the wilderness. Jesus didn’t exactly “choose” it . . . . the Spirit compelled him to go!
Throughout scripture the wilderness is more than just some barren rocks. It is the place where people confront the relentless power of temptation, question and wrestle with who they are, where they are going, and how they are going to get there.
It is the barren, seemingly empty place between where we’ve been and where we are going.
It is the allegedly desolate place between our familiar, comfortable, past and an uncomfortable, risky
Yes, it LOOKS empty. But is it?
In the wilderness, God meets us there. Just like God met Jesus. Jesus did not venture into the wilderness alone and neither do we.
As we journey into the soul searching place where we wrestle with the temptation to settle for what is less than God’s best for us, let us remember we never have to wrestle with that alone.