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Weekly Devotionals

Walking Towards Your Wilderness

12 At once the Spirit sent him out into the wilderness, 13 and he was in the
wilderness forty days, being tempted by Satan. He was with the wild animals, and angels attended him. –
Mark 1:12-13

Mark’s account of Jesus’ battle in the desert is short and sweet, but is no less powerful in its message for all those who believe in this curious man from Galilee. In my last devotional, I spoke about how Jesus’ acts of love for the world were fueled by the Father’s love for himself. That’s a telling reminder that our love for others is most true when we first realize that we are loved first. I would take that even further and say that our love for the others is heightened when we realize who the first lover is – God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

In today’s scripture passage, we see what sort of action a love like that produces. This Jesus is not one who is meek and mild. No, no, no! Rather, he’s one who dives into the wilderness and confronts his adversary without hesitation. Mark’s frequent use of the word “immediately” or “at once” reveals the spirit of determination that Jesus takes into the desert. That resolve isn’t one of a lone ranger either. Actually, it’s the Holy Spirit’s prompting that leads him straight into the wasteland, where for forty days he does battle against forces that seek his demise. Echoes of the early Israelite community emerging out of the Red Sea and being thrust into the wilderness are obvious. In a sense, Jesus’ encounter with Satan is the story of humanity’s plight against the harshness of life that often beholden us.

Feelings of being in the wilderness and being amongst wild animals sound appropriate in our new pandemic reality. Anxiety seems to be the other hidden plague that creeps through the crevices of our minds and our news feeds hardly reveal anything to alleviate that grip. I think Jesus’ example reveals to us how we should approach life when fear and anxiety take hold – to grab life instead of letting it grab us and walk straight into the wilderness. That wilderness can take many forms. For some of us, it might mean confronting a past wrong you inflicted on someone. Maybe you’re in a job that is sucking the soul out of you or you’re in that middle stage of life and you’re anxious about whether you should actually take a step towards your dreams. It might even be as simple as saying “I love you” to a parent. The “wilderness” can take many forms, but one thing is certainly true – we all have them and we all need to confront them “at once.”

Jesus reveals to us that the journey towards ascension is one riddled with wild animals and satanic forces, all of which are ready to pounce. However, with the Father’s love in us, we’re assured that angels will tend to our needs in our darkest moments. Mark’s portrayal of Jesus inspires us to be Christ-like in a very different way. Lent is a season of sacrifice and I pray you might be inspired to sacrifice a human emotion that can often be toxic – Fear. May the Lord bless you and keep you and give you courage to face your personal wilderness.