This year I hope to read through the entire Bible using a daily Catholic Bible that provides 20 minutes of readings from both the Old and New testaments. Monday, January 1st appropriately begins with Genesis and Mark, the earliest gospel.
Behold, I send my messenger before thy face,
who shall prepare thy way;
the voice of one crying in the wilderness:
Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight. . .
[After Jesus was baptized by John]
. . .The Spirit immediately drove him out into the wilderness. And he was in the wilderness forty days. . .
These days I often feel like a voice crying out from the wilderness. Trying to balance working from home, raising a 3 year old and 7 month old, keeping up my home, managing the bills and doctors appointments and the other necessities of life, all the while my husband works 60 hour weeks, can leave me feeling stranded in a no man’s land and alone even as I am constantly surrounded by two precious little beings. Group texts with friends help ease the need for connection, but the isolation is still real.
This passage reminds me that even John and Jesus were in the wilderness at one point in their lives. In fact, God actually SENT Jesus into the wilderness to be tempted.
A wilderness is defined as a wild and uncultivated region, as of forest or desert, uninhabited or inhabited only by wild animals; a tract of wasteland. We all have those wilderness times in our lives. Often we feel alone or abandoned when we are in them. Perhaps instead we need to cling to the image of Jesus in the wilderness and ask Him to be with us in ours, pray that He will give us strength to face the wasteland of our sorrow, the wolves that try to devour our souls, the darkness of the seemingly uninhabitable places in our hearts. If we open ourselves up to Him, He will be there. He knows; he has been there before.
Ironically, it is often in the actual physical wilderness that we have the easiest time finding Him. When I take to the woods, explore a trail in a state park, or just sit out on the porch watching a thunderstorm, I experience my deepest connection with Him and suddenly in this “uncultivated region” I am able to truly cultivate Him in my heart.