In The Wilderness
Jesus is baptized by John. God appears and says, “You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased.” Then the Spirit ( that is Spirit with a capital S) drives him into the desert where he fasts for forty days, is around wild beasts and is tempted by Satan.
What strikes me is that Jesus isn't invited to go into the desert for some quality time. It wasn't like he was going on a retreat where there are simple meals and people speak quietly. No, He is driven there where his body and his soul were challenged. I have no doubt that those challenges hardened him for his mission to literally save the world. A mission that led him to the cross and his resurrection.
Lets bring this story home. We all have challenges in our lives. We all in a metaphorical sense face wild beasts. And, at least in my life, temptation frequently whispers in my ear. The question is how do we face those challenges. What tools do we have in our tool chest that help us along our way.
Honestly, my tools are scripture, prayer and meditation, and the love I receive from those around me. That is what keeps my head straight. That is what keeps my moral compass pointed in the right direction.
Jesus told us to reach out in love for others and as followers of Jesus, that is what we do. I was working at the food bank last Friday and a lady came in to ask a question about the area we served. My answer was not what she wanted to hear but that isn't why I am telling you about her. As she was about to leave she told me that when she came to the food bank several months ago we helped her out and she said we have no idea how important that was to her and her family. They were literally going hungry. She said she now has a job and she is back on her feet. I believe that on that day, while she was sharing with me her story, she was ministering to me.
There are many wild beasts that we must face down in our lives. Sometimes it is poverty. Sometimes it is chronic pain or damaged relationships. Whatever it is, it is easier if we know we are not facing those challenges alone in the desert. We have each other. We have our God and his angels. We have a community of believers who are committed to support us through whatever life throws at us.
When the time comes in the service for me to say, “may the peace of the Lord be with you.” Be assured that I mean it.