Monday February 27, 2023
INTO THE WILDERNESS
Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, left the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness…
We must walk into the solitary space with Jesus to learn the art of intimacy with God. The Spirit led Jesus into the wilderness, sometimes translated “the desert.” For many, the word desert sounds hot, difficult, deadly, and destructive. We think of deserts as having sand dunes, scorching heat, and the worst part—no people, food, water, or stores.
But in the biblical narrative, the words desert and wilderness are reflecting into Israel’s forty-year journey in the wilderness, wandering in covenant struggle with the God who brought them up out of Egypt. The desert, the wilderness, was to be a place of purification, of reorientation, of ongoing discovery of Israel’s true name and vocation. And they failed, time and time again, as a people. In the wild, God can get at us—without the din and noise and activity and relationships and social media creating enough noise that we can’t hear him speak what he has to say. The wild is not a punishment—the wild is a gift.
Author John Mark Comer puts it this way: Desert here doesn’t necessarily mean sand and heat.The Greek word is eremos, and it has a wide array of meanings. It can be translated desert, deserted place, desolate place, solitary place, lonely place, quiet place (my personal favorite), wilderness.There are stories—lots of them—in all four Gospels about Jesus’ relationship to the eremos, but this is that first story.
Jesus loved the eremos; some of his most important work was done there.
We see Jesus get up early to go into the quiet spaces. We see him looked for, and not found, because he is in a solitary place, and no one is with him. We see him invite his disciples into deserted places. We see Jesus choose early mornings and late nights to find alone time before the Father.
And there, in the wild, he reorients to his name and vocation time and time again.
The wild is a gift to you and to me.The pressures may be high in that place, or the pressures may be low. Either way, we need a place to stop, to think, to fast, to pray, to worship, and to confront the voice that has our worst in mind.
If we don’t find the sacred place in the wild daily—the quiet, isolated, and present-with-God place—we will lose our way in the tame, the busy, the familiar, and the populated places. The Spirit led Jesus into the wilderness to set the tone for how he was to find his strength and solace to do the ministry ahead of him.
You and I must find our wild, our place of meeting, so we, too, can orient daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly, during our own disorienting lives.
Consider your wild place, where God can get you alone and you can hear his voice, reminding you of what is true, right, pure, lovely, and core to who you are. We won’t find that kind of holy hearing happening in front of a Netflix series. We will find it in the place of being alone before God.
Do you have a daily or weekly quiet place where you can get before God and hear his voice? Have you set up a personal retreat by yourself, or with a group (we can hear God, at times, with others) this year? If not, would that be a good thing to do for your spiritual health?
Lord of the Wild, there are seasons in our lives that our idea of a bad time is being alone. We fear the loss of input, encouragement, resources, and even food and drink. But we recognize that you must be found in the quiet place so the noise can settle and reveal its true source (you or the enemy). We look forward to finding our quiet place together. In Jesus’s name, amen.
Songs for the Wilderness
First 15 through the season of Lent is adapted from Jesus in the Wild: Lessons of Calling for Life in the World available through Seedbed. If you or your small group are interested in using this resource for your Lenten study, you can find more information here or send an email to email@example.com.
The First 15
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