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From Wilderness to Happiness

Baptism of JesusFor the Christian Church, the Gospel reading for this past Sunday, the first Sunday in Lent, was Mark 1:9-15. In it, we see Jesus being baptized by John in the Jordan River inaugurating Jesus’ public ministry. I find a few things which are fascinating about this story.

First, as Jesus was coming out of the water, God the Father makes himself known when he declares about Jesus, “You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased” (11). Wow! What an experience, to have God, creator and sustainer of the Universe, to say that he is well pleased with you! This would certainly be a high point in a person’s life.

Second, Jesus was led from this high point into the wilderness “with the wild beasts” where he was “tempted by Satan” (12-13). Again, Wow! To go from the high point of God declaring he is pleased with you to a low point of the wilderness with Satan biting at your heels.

But we know from other passages that Jesus emerged victorious from his low-point wilderness experience, better equipped, more empowered, and ready to engage society. He proclaims to those gathered around him what I believe his high and low experiences have emphasized: we must repent of our ways that are contrary to the known will of God and believe that Jesus came to provide salvation to the world and a path to eternal life.

What great news! To know that we don’t have to live in the “wilderness” of life. We don’t have to allow our “low points” to define us. Rather, we can emerge from the wilderness victoriously. Not because of anything we can do on our own, but because of what Jesus has done for us.

If you follow the Christian religion and perhaps are in the midst of a Lenten journey, I encourage you to take time to remember where you have come from, where you struggle and where you need to be; then turn it over to the Jesus who leads us out of the wilderness into the Light until one day we’ll hear the words of God’s pleasure for us, “well done, good and faithful servant! …Come and share your master’s happiness!” (Mt. 25:21).





Originally published as “A Lenten Journey,” 26 February 2015 in The Fort Leonard Wood Guidon. Digital version can be found here. All of my Guidon articles can be found here if you’re interested!



Photo Credit: from http://www.fbc-hamburg.com/baptism_of_jesus.html . Lighted stained glass window that sits above and behind the baptistry at First Baptist Church in Hamburg, Arkansas.






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