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March 1, 2021
“Meeting Jesus in the Wilderness”
We live in a townhouse on the southeast side of Orleans. It is hardly wilderness. Now it only takes two or three minutes drive to get to open farm fields, to remind us what these lands looked like not so long ago. I am trying to walk daily in all weather conditions and urban walking or suburban walking is different in the different seasons. People are still too much in a hurry in their cars, while pedestrians are present, often when there is only one lane of traffic due to many parking, and the snow and ice reducing the width of the road significantly. One thing I note is that I still need exercise even when I think it is spring like, and it turns out to be full on winter still… But Spring is coming.
If you read the first parts of Matthew 4 and Luke 4, as well as a couple of verses in Mark 1: 12-13, you find Jesus in the wilderness. Before Jesus began his earthly ministry, he was led out to the wilderness and the devil tempted him there. Forty days in the wilderness made Him confirmed his strength in trusting His Father. After he had passed the tests of food, focus and full commitment to the Father, angels minister to Him. When we feel we are most alone, and wonder how long pandemics and the like are going to last in our lives, there the Lord meets us and ministers to us. We too have our tests in the wilderness. Will we trust God through the tests? Will we hold on to our faith, or will we choose to leave Jesus, because it gets awful hard sometimes? In John 6:60 and 6:66, it is recorded that many followers of Jesus left Him, after He taught on His flesh and blood. Are we offended by Jesus from time to time? What do we do when we are offended?
I love that part of Scripture where Jesus turns to the twelve and asks them if they too want to leave Him. It’s not because of Jesus’ question, which is a valid one. It’s because of Peter’s answer: “Where else can we go? You have the words of eternal life…” (6:68) I often come back to that moment where Peter says the right thing from his heart. He doesn’t always say the right thing. But he loves the Lord, and he works that out at that moment. We do the same.
The Lord wants to meet you in the wilderness. He wants to ask you how it is going. He wants to fill in the places that are empty and hurting. He wants to be the One to whom you turn in the most desolate of places. Our losses and loneliness can sometimes challenge us beyond our what we think we can handle. But God is faithful and Jesus knows what we need.
The new elders have been asked to write out their testimonies of how they came to know Jesus and how they came to say “yes” to the call to be an elder. I note that they are simply wanting to serve and were surprised to be asked. These are good signs, and ones that help us all know we are in the wilderness together, desiring to follow Jesus and know there is no where else to go.
Let us continue to pray for John, Shirley, Dounia, Tomm and Yohana. They are seeking the Lord. Jean Bosco has decided to take more time with his family and therefore will not be taking up the eldership at this time. We trust the Lord for all these and are so grateful for their faith and trust in Jesus.
Let us continue to meet Jesus in the wilderness of Lent, where He comforts us in the challenges and losses. He knows what we need.