“At once the Spirit sent him out into the wilderness, and he was in the wilderness forty days, being tempted by Satan” (Mark 1:12-13, NIV).
Most of the month of March is immersed in the Lenten season this year. Lent is that season of the Christian year (March 6-April 20, 2019) leading up to Easter when Christ-followers turn to God to get perspective on their lives and examine their faith. It is a time to zoom out and look at our lives and our connection to God. It follows the 40-day pattern of Jesus’ time in the wilderness before the beginning of his ministry.
Lent is a time to focus on prayer, engage the Bible, and skinny down our schedules to gain a sharper perspective on what really does matter. It is a holy season in that it creates time to more fully appreciate how we spend our daily lives. Perspective is so important.
It is interesting that Jesus prepared for his ministry by facing down the Master of Distraction, Satan. Thirty-year-old Jesus was led by God’s Spirit into an uninhabited place (which is what “wilderness” means).
Jesus was to be as unhindered by distractions as possible. There were no homes, people, or sites to grab his attention. He fasted to remind himself of his purpose. He only had exposure to the pounding temptations to be a god or to manipulate God for his own immediate desires.
In that wilderness Jesus would get to know himself and his needs. He would also be acquainted with the power of darkness. Satan would work him over. The issue was who or what would really be the object of Jesus’ worship? Objects of worship always define our lives. Would it be personal glory or self-serving religion or fortune or fame or self-maintained morality or God?
The Bible reveals that it is God’s desire that we love him with all of our hearts, souls, and strength (Deuteronomy 6:5). In other words, our lives are to have a quality of focus, an undistracted connection with God. We are to fight double-mindedness and living with divided hearts. We are to live in ways that are accessible to zooming out and gaining a new focus on God’s place in our lives and our lives.
That’s what that first 40-day wilderness experience was about. That is what Lent seeks to follow. Whom do we really worship?
I invite you to reserve a time each day in this holy season to pray. Devotional guides will be available to you at church. I also invite you to join one of our Lenten community groups meeting in homes. The community groups will give you the opportunity to explore Jesus’ prayers and to bond with other church members.
Finally plan to come to worship each of the five Lenten Sundays. Explore the blessing of continuity.
God bless us all as we zoom out and gain perspective on God, life and worship. Indeed, as with Jesus’ wilderness experience, may God’s Spirit launch us into the Lenten season. May we know God and ourselves better as we approach Easter.