Into the Wild
By Michele McGrath, Presiding Bishopric
Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. He fasted forty days and forty nights, and afterwards he was famished. -Matthew 4:1-2 NRSV
In The Message, Matthew 4:1a is translated as, “Jesus was taken into the wild by the Spirit for the Test.” The “wild” is a place of preparation where people are tested, refined, and prepared for the next step. (Think of the Israelites, John the Baptist, and Jesus.)
For me, deciding to make a radical change in career path definitely felt like stepping into the wild. I had a good job. I mean a really good job. I was earning six figures with all the perks, and it was the job I had worked my whole career to attain. But something wasn’t quite right, and it began to bother me. At various times I began to see the image of a sparkling, deep blue pool of water on a hot summer day, but I was holding on tightly to the edge-safe and secure, but unquenched.
I began to hear two simple words full of challenge and invitation: “Let go.”
I needed to go deeper.
Where was I being called? Was I headed in the right direction? After a time of discussion with my husband and concentrated prayer, I determined that I did, indeed, need to “let go.” I quit the big job. I trusted in God. People thought I was crazy. I prayed and listened and let go. I’ve never regretted that decision. It has led me on a wild, unpredictable journey of discipleship and ministry, and my life has had so much more meaning and depth because of it.
The image of the wild often conjures images of desolation and helplessness. But in the biblical view the wild is a place of freedom and uncluttered vision that invites us to take stock of our lives. Before Jesus can lead his followers to the kingdom of God, he must first, as John the Baptizer says, make a way in the wilderness.
Lent is a good time to deeply consider our life’s path, because the wild way of letting go and radically changing plans may be calling you, too. What is calling to you right now?
God, may my deep hope align with your deep vision. Release in me anything that keeps me from freely following your Spirit. Amen.
Invitation to Spiritual Practice
Breathe deeply as you enter a time of silence. Become gently attentive to what may be restricting you from faithfully responding to the divine invitation in your life. Are there priorities, attachments, tasks, or motivations competing for your response? What does freedom for God look or feel like in you this day?
Today’s Prayer for Peace
Engage in a daily practice of praying for peace in our world. Click here to read today’s prayer and be part of this practice of peace.