Thursday After Ash Wednesday
When was your last adventure in the wilderness and what was your best moment?
Three days into a trip on the waters of Northern Saskatchewan, I peer over the edge of my canoe. I hardly notice the calm waters of the Churchill River slipping by. Rather, I see green-lit aspen leaves framing a sky of blue and—surprise—my own stubbly, dirt-and-sweat-stained face. A short time in the wilderness changes me. Not only do I look different, I see differently.
Throughout the Bible, wilderness is a place of encounter with God. Moses sees a burning bush. Elijah hears a gentle whisper. The people of Israel see and hear the storms on Sinai. It’s not surprising that John the Baptist chooses the wilderness. He’s come to “make straight,” to prepare for an encounter (1:23).
People leave the comforts of home to check out this second Elijah because they are curious about who he is. But John, like the calm reflection of a northern river, directs their attention away from himself to a man “you do not know” who stands “among you” (1:26).
John doesn’t claim it’ll be easy to see. He later admits (twice!), “I myself did not know him” (1:31, 33). But seeing, he bursts out, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world” (1:29)! John’s wilderness eyes were given the gift of vision. He sees Jesus, the One who stands among us.
In the wilderness, I see rocks, spruce trees, and waterfalls. But I also see my community, my family, and myself with clearer eyes. I may even glimpse God, standing among the people and events of my everyday life.
Lent echoes the forty days Jesus spent in the wilderness; therefore, it’s meant to be wilderness time. We leave behind some of the comforts and patterns of normal life, and we ask for eyes to see—to see Jesus, the Lamb of God.
What is one comfort or pattern that you can leave behind so you can enter into wilderness time?
Rod Schellenberg is Lead Pastor at Hepburn MB Church in Hepburn, SK.
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