Feb. 23, 2013
At once the Spirit forced Jesus out into the wilderness. He was in the wilderness for forty days, tempted by Satan. He was among the wild animals, and the angels took care of him.
In the last blog, I wrote about listening to God and not life becoming a “to-do” list. Then I skipped doing the blog for several days. Many of those days, I had good intentions. I wrote it on my to-do list. But inspiration and motivation lacked.
If completely honest, I would admit that I am in a time of wilderness. It is not that I have a bad life or am depressed. I’m just in a wilderness time. I have been reading an autobiographical book by a wonderful pastor/theologian/well-known Christian author. Thus far, he shares about how it took three years to plant a new congregation. Finally, they got a building built. Then, people lost interest. People lost passion. Committed folks who helped get the faith community planted, started and built skipped worship. At the chapter I finished this morning, he wrote about how he entered a life phase he called the “badlands.” It lasted for six years.
“Welcome to my world,” I thought.
Several years ago, Rick and I traveled to Mount Rushmore and Yellowstone National Park. On the way, we drove through the South Dakota Badlands. As we looked over the barren landscape, the Jeep thermometer registered 107 degrees. When we stepped out of the car at a look-out point, the air that hit our lungs was as dry and parching as the sand that fell over our sandals.
Before Jesus began his ministry, he was baptized by John the Baptist in the Jordan River. (I should have blogged about this event first. Maybe in a day or two.) Three of the four gospels say immediately after this this pinnacle event he went into the barren, dry and oppressive dessert for 40 days and 40 nights. The Judean wilderness is anything but beautiful. When I was there in January, it was dry, brown and ugly. An hour in this area was enough for our tour group.
Mark’s gospel only gives us one sentence. Luke and Matthew’s gospel give more detail. Here, Jesus was tempted by the Devil three times. Three times, he tries to lure Jesus away from being the spiritual being he was intended to be with temptations of secular culture. It is no different for us today. Maybe the enticements are different. But the baseline temptations are much the same.
I like Mark’s description because he includes these words: “And the angels took care of him.” Our society overuses angels to the point we are unsure of angel’s roles. But I do know this: God provides angels of many different kinds to walk with us in our own wildernesses. A couple showed up in my life this week. One angel astutely asked me what I need to do in the next six months to renew myself. Another angel walked into the church office, relieved to see me alive and healthy because I hadn’t blogged for a few days. These angels do not have visible wings or halos. But they want to care of me as I walk through the wilderness.
Lent is 40 days because Jesus spent 40 days in the wilderness before he officially launched his ministry. Angels attend him as Satan tempted him. Thank God I do not have to walk the Badlands of my life alone. Angels attend me also.
When we hit the badland times of our lives, Lord God, bring angels to attend us. May loving people care for us in the wilderness times of our lives. As we are tempted to follow things not of your world, surround us with your love and protection. Amen.