Call of the Wild
What is your style when it comes to adventures? Do you love camping, hunting, fishing, and hiking in the wilderness? Do you prefer a resort hotel somewhere with an indoor pool and golf course? Some view the untamed wild as an opportunity for adventure. Others view it as a beautiful sight to be viewed only in a TV documentary or from a picture window of a chalet, where you don’t need to bring bear spray!
At the start of Lent this season I was thinking about when Jesus was led into the wilderness before the launch of his earthly ministry (Luke 4:1-13). Thoughts of wilderness for a Jewish man like Jesus would not be of picture windows in mountain lodges. Instead it would remind him of the offspring of Jacob being led by Moses as they wandered through the desert for 40 years.
The first part of this story in Luke happens after Jesus was baptized and “returned from the Jordan River full of the Holy Spirit and led by the Spirit into the wilderness. He was then tempted for forty days by the devil. He ate nothing during those days and afterward Jesus was starving.” (Luke 4:1-2 CEB)
I’m sure he had a flash back to this desert experience when Jesus when Jesus taught his disciples a model prayer and included this phrase:
“And don’t lead us into temptation but rescue us from the evil one.” (Matthew 6:13 CEB)
We too will face temptation in the wilderness journeys of our lives. Those times when things are not going the way we want. Those times of loss and even times of spiritual hunger. Lent is a season of facing things that tempt us.
Have you ever given up something for Lent? We often give up things that we know are not good for us, right? For those more devoted Lent followers, as they give something up (like their favorite coffee drink) they might give the money they would have spent to a favorite charity. Some may even spend the time when they would have been enjoying their favorite thing drawing closer to God.
Things like sweets or coffee or binging on NETFLIX help us understand our tendency to fall to temptation instead of trusting God. We can learn to stand firm against temptation through the power of Christ. One of the ways we do that is through knowledge of Scripture, just like Jesus knew the scriptures to stand against temptation in his wilderness.
Later in the first century, the apostle Paul wrote to a house church of Christians in the town of Corinth (about 48 miles west of Athens) about temptation. “No temptation has seized you that isn’t common for people. But God is faithful. He won’t allow you to be tempted beyond your abilities. Instead, with the temptation, God will also supply a way out so that you will be able to endure it.” (1 Corinthians 10:13 CEB)
Are you giving anything up for LENT? Along with giving up something for Lent, I pray that we can all take up something for Lent. Meet a need of someone you know. Send notes to people who mean a lot to you. Start a new positive habit. Spend some time each day in prayer and listening to God through scripture.
The wilderness cannot be avoided, as much as we might try. We will find ourselves in the midst of the wild and untamed places of life at one time or another. The temptation is to avoid them, or to view them as places where nothing good can happen, but the wilderness can be a place of growth.
It can be a place where we see God in a new way. As a people, let’s walk into this time of Lenten wilderness with the expectation that God is going to walk with us through it all.
“Don’t fear, because I am with you; don’t be afraid, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, I will surely help you; I will hold you with my righteous strong hand.” (Isaiah 41:10 CEB)
Obey the call of the wild!