In the wild
After Jesus is baptized, and just before he begins his ministry, where do we find him?
Is he in the house of an important political or religious figure? Is he fundraising? Is he getting as many people to follow him as he can?
Before Jesus begins his ministry, we find him called–by the Spirit–to the wilderness. He is called to the wilderness as his starting the place for everything; but why? If you’ve read the Bible or are familiar with its story, or that of the Torah, than you may know the story of the Israelites wandering the desert for forty years, testing God and being tested by God, as they yearn and searched for a promised land.
Jesus returns to this “desert” and wilderness in Luke chapter 4, and offers us something new; not only does Jesus create a foundation for the work and life he will live, but he also offers a view of “promised land” in his very living, that the Israelites were searching so desperately for.
As Jesus comes, Divinity in human skin, he says this as he enters the wilderness:
This wild place isn’t empty; it is the beginning of your story. These challenges to your humanity aren’t your end, but the beginning of your full story being told.
The devil tests Jesus and uses the Bible to do it; he tells a piece of the story of God, but Jesus pushes back saying “No; this is not the full story. Let me tell you what you are missing.”
In pushing back, Jesus creates a foundation for who he is, and what he is on earth to do; he is here –starting the in wilderness–to tell the full story of his coming, of a God that loves and redeems, not just to fulfill a temporary need, but to sustain and fill the people forever.
The devil notices Jesus’ hunger and says he should turn bread into stone, which seems rather thoughtful initially; but Jesus refuses his offer, because the devil, the evil that seeks to tell half your story, wants us fed today and hungry tomorrow. God seeks more for us and with us.
Though the wilderness may be a place of unknowns, we are frequently called to it or find ourselves in it. May we recognize the beauty of the wilderness as a place where we begin to solidify who we are, what we are here to do, and what story we are here to tell–in full.
What wilderness are you being called to? What unknown have you been struggling in?
May you know that the “promised land” is found and solidified in your own skin, in this wilderness, before you can find it anywhere else. May you know that Divinity and Creator bless your journey, and walk with you.
To end, I will leave this excerpt from “Women Who Run With The Wolves” below, which approaches the “wilderness” in such a way as Jesus does:
“The word ‘wild’ here is not used in its modern pejorative sense, meaning out of control, but in its original sense, which means to live a natural life, one in which the criatura, creature, has innate integrity and healthy boundaries.
To adjoin the instinctual nature does not mean to come undone…it does not mean to lose one’s primary socializations, or to become less human. It means quite the opposite. The wild nature has a vast integrity to it.
It means to establish territory, to find one’s pack, to be in one’s body with certainty and pride regardless of the body’s gifts and limitations, to speak and act in one’s behalf, to be aware, alert, to draw on the innate feminine powers of intuition and sensing, to come into one’s cycles, to find what one belongs to, to rise with dignity, to retain as much consciousness as possible.”
May your wilderness be your homecoming.
Go in peace,