The Wild Wilderness
If we love our kids, will we allow them to face tough, potentially dangerous situations? Teachers often lament the fact that many parents protest when their child is challenged or tested, and then wonder why they fail to mature and lose their job or flunk out of college in the first year.
Yesterday’s devo reminded us that God, the ultimate Father, at his son’s baptism shouted to him from heaven how much he loved him and how pleased he was with him. He esteemed his son, but did this mean that he protected him from the toughness of the wilderness and even conflict with Satan?
“And immediately the Spirit was pushing him into the wilderness. And in the wilderness Satan was tempting him for forty days. He was with the wild animals and the angels were serving him.” Mark 1:12-13
Isaiah predicted the Messiah’s herald would be a voice in the wilderness. John the Baptist started heralding the need to prepare for the coming of God’s Kingdom in the wilderness, and Jesus left Galilee and came to John in the wilderness to be baptized by him. God’s Spirit descended like a dove on Jesus, but unlike the peaceful times we would expect a dove to bring, the first thing God’s Spirit does is push Jesus into a tough environment to face the ultimate antagonist in God’s Story of Redemption.
The other Gospels will spell out exactly how Satan tempted Jesus, but Mark moves the action quickly. Without going into the details, he assures us that Jesus came out on top and that his Father didn’t abandon him. God’s angels took care of him and the wild animals did not devour him.
I’ve found it important to get out into the wilderness where there are actually wild animals to get away from the roar of life. I also need to remember that if Satan tempted Jesus, he will tempt me as his follower. Peter, Mark’s mentor in the first century, warned us that Satan, like a roaring lion, goes about seeking to devour us. And Hebrews reminds us that we shouldn’t worship angels but we should rejoice that they are “ministering spirits sent out to serve those who are going to inherit salvation” (Heb. 1:14).
When I feel that oppression of darkness and the loneliness and fear in the wilderness, I shouldn’t conclude that God doesn’t love and care for me. Even Jesus learned obedience through the testing of hard places and hard times.
LORD, help me respond to your Spirit in the hard places and times and not rely upon my own strength to take on Satan. Thanks for the protection of your angels who though I can’t see them are there like the army that surrounded Elisha in 2 Kings 6:16-17.
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