Be still and know that I am God. (Ps. 46:10)
The season of Lent sets us on a journey that begins in the wilderness. Each year it seems God calls me to go through a different wilderness. Today I got a glimpse of what I’m going to face this year, and I don’t want to, for you see, today I was afraid. I don’t like being afraid because it brings feelings of being lost and alone along with it.
The fear that I experienced today was a familiar one, one that awakens from time to time. It calls to me from deep within. Today I felt it growing with each passing mile. It couldn’t be denied or ignored, and since I was driving in the car, I couldn’t distract myself by getting up to go do something else. I was a captive to it. I tried telling myself to just pray it away. I prayed. It stayed. I don’t know if you have felt this before. I hope not, but I suspect I’m not alone in this.
It’s in these times that I imagine Jesus in the wilderness. He was there for forty days and nights. He faced evil three times and triumphed each time, but, what about the times in-between? Was he afraid then? Did he feel lost and alone? The Bible doesn’t speak of Jesus’ fear, but even though Jesus was fully divine, he was fully human as well. As a human being who experienced what we experience, I believe he did know fear. I also believe that it was the power of God’s Holy Spirit that helped Jesus face those fears and whatever other human thoughts and emotions he had.
As a follower of Jesus, then, I can’t hide from my fears, my trials or my temptations. I must face them, and like Jesus, I can’t face them alone. I don’t have to face them alone. In fact, facing them alone is the complete opposite of what God wants for us. If Jesus had tried to face the devil alone, it would have been a very different story. But Jesus didn’t go it alone. Before being forced into the desert, he had been baptized, filled with the power of God’s Holy Spirit. Did that make him a superhero? No. Then why, as a baptized child of God, would think I am left alone to face my fears?
As the miles passed in the car, I stopped praying for God to take my fear away, and started praying for God to be with me in them, to sit right next to me, shoulder to shoulder, whispering words of assurance, “Peace I leave you. My peace I give to you. Don’t be troubled or afraid” (Jn. 14:27); “greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world” (1 John 4:4); “nothing can separate us from God’ love in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Ro. 838); “be still and know that I am God” (Ps. 46:10). These words came from a place more deeply rooted than my fears. By the time I arrived at my destination I was tired but calm, and no longer afraid. Will these fears come back? Probably. But each time I go through this wilderness, I come out stronger and more sure of the depth of meaning of my baptism. I am a child of God, never to be overtaken by anything anymore, except the love of God in Christ Jesus.
In your journey through Lent this year, wherever God asks you to go, know that you are not alone. You are a baptized, named, claimed, child of God. Peace be with you.
From your Pastor’s Heart,