What is your “wilderness”? Is it loneliness? Is just plain being tired? Is it hunger….for food, for love, for acceptance? Has life become a tough prospect, maybe bitter, or seemingly hard to navigate and handle? It is times like these that we often cry out to God. Sometimes, it’s just the opposite, we are surrounded by comforts, computers, and “things” in our lives but yet– something is missing. I believe that this also….is a “wilderness”. The key is that no matter what our situation, God wants a relationship with us and wants to break through to us.
The Greek word translated as “wilderness” is “eremos” [er-ay-mos], meaning a lonely, solitary place. I believe that we can be in that lonely place even if things seem to be going good in our lives. God sent a messenger to prepare the way for Jesus, he sent a messenger to let us know that He wants to “break through” to us with a message that fills the gap of what is missing in our lives. John the Baptist was the messenger sent to prepare the way and Jesus– IS the message.
Mark 1:4-5 (TNIV)
4 And so John the Baptist appeared in the wilderness, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. 5 The whole Judean countryside and all the people of Jerusalem went out to him. Confessing their sins, they were baptized by him in the Jordan River.
Before God came to this earth as a man, as Jesus, to SHOW us what He meant, I believe that He tried to help people understand His wisdom but so many times we got it wrong. To some degree we still do today.
A local Pastor, James Coffin, here at Markham Woods Church put it this way:
“Repeatedly Jesus took established wisdom and turned it on its head. His teaching was, to use a popular expression, counterintuitive–it went against what our reason, our senses, our training, our heritage tell us is the way things should be done. Jesus advocated what some have called reverse living. He maintained that being other-directed rather than self-centered actually works to one’s advantage–even in the here and now. He argued that a heavenly focus brings earthly fulfillment. He advocated passivity when aggression would seem more effective. He called for forgiveness in situations that seem ripe for retribution. He held out greater hope for the spiritually broken than for those who epitomized spiritual success.”
You may be at a place in life where you want to come out of that wilderness. Maybe you need to do an “about-face” in life and realize that self-centeredness is not the answer but that “others”- centeredness , indeed, that “Christ”- centeredness, IS the answer.
John the Baptist prepared the way by “preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins”. Repentance in the Greek is “metanoia” [met-an-oy-ah] and means, “a change of mind, of a purpose or of a thing that one has done”. It also means, “a change of mind which results in a change of life or lifestyle”.
That “about-face”….the church word, “repentance”, actually, is simply a 180 degree turn from being self-centered, which leads to wrong actions such as lying, cheating, stealing, gossiping, revenge, abusing and indulgence in the wrong things.
When we surrender to our creator, to God, indeed to Jesus Himself, and start to apply His wisdom in our lives and seek a relationship with Him, we start to walk out of that wilderness and into a different place…..the Kingdom of God…indeed, the kingdom of heaven.
The first step is to admit that we have been going about it all wrong and to ask for that forgiveness. Remember that only God, indeed Jesus, can get rid of sin. He doesn’t expect us to clean up our lives before we come to Him.
As we change our way of thinking…..as we become less self-centered and more Jesus-centered……we will find that we are no longer in that wilderness and we will find a loving Father there ready to receive us with wide open arms.