Down Time in the Wilderness

And Jesus being full of the Holy Ghost returned from Jordan, and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness, Being forty days tempted of the devil. And in those days he did eat nothing: and when they were ended, he afterward hungered. Luke 4:1-2 KJV

We missed our connecting flight in Chicago once and spent five hours till the next one was available. While my wife was happy to walk around, shop a bit and spend the day content until our flight, I shamefully stomped back and forth around the terminal repeating more times than I would like to recall, “This is stupid! I can’t believe we missed our flight!” Dealing with down time has never been my strong suit though, because God has orchestrated multiple occasions like this in my life I have learned to go with the flow far better than that day in Chicago. Did you ever wonder what Jesus did with all His “down time” during that 6 1/2 weeks in the wilderness? It is easy to fast forward through these verses to get to the action scenes with Jesus crushing Satan by the word of God and heading out of the wilderness to His ministry. But forty days and forty nights is a long time. Of course we can be pretty confident that Jesus spent many hours in prayer, but what else could he have been doing from sunup to sundown?

But maybe Jesus could leave that wilderness in power, not simply because He defeated Satan, but also because He had learned the secret of rest. He had not worried what people thought about Him back in Nazareth, He rested in God’s plan. He didn’t try to start planning the ministry that lay before Him He simply enjoyed the peace and quiet. Maybe Jesus passed time watching birds and heard His Father explain how He cared for them. Maybe He watched seeds sprouting up by a stream in that desert place and saw how tiny beginnings could grow into trees able to bear fruit for hungry travelers. When it was time for breakfast and His stomach growled like every other man’s, maybe He just quietly thanked His Father for the living bread of His word to give Him strength. We will never know till heaven the answer to all these questions but it might be instructive during our next down time, to pause and ask Jesus what He did and then ask Him how to be more like Him during our own time of waiting in the wilderness.

Facing The Wilderness

And Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the wilderness for forty days, being tempted by the devil. And he ate nothing during those days. And when they were ended, he was hungry. Luke 4:1-2 ESV

Before Jesus began His public ministry, the Holy Spirit led Him into the wilderness to be alone for forty days. Though most of us will never spend 40 days alone in the wilderness, God sometimes chooses times of isolation in our lives.

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These may be unexpected events which we could never have imagined or a sudden change in our health. But whatever the circumstance it is most important to remember that the value of our own wilderness experience lies not in what we are suffering but in what we are learning from the Holy Spirit. But no matter the testing or the wilderness, the most important thing is that in the quietness of our time alone, we learn to hear the voice of God for ourselves. Only He will lead us “not into temptation” and then maybe even tomorrow out of the wilderness and into the next chapter He has planned for our life!

Taking Our Own Test

No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it. 1 Corinthians 10:13 ESV

My hands sweated as I gripped the steering wheel helplessly watching the train pass by, knowing that with each car I was getting later for class. Five minutes later I bolted from my car and raced up the stairs to my classroom where everyone else was already seated and beginning the exam. Mrs. Sullivan smiled trying to look encouraging as I picked up my English Literature test and plopped down in my seat.

“Who in the world are they?” I wondered as I glanced at the first question with a list of authors to choose from. So I skipped down to the next question but it was on a novel I had never heard of. As I scanned the rest of the sheet realizing I didn’t know any of the answers my stomach churned. In panic I walked up to the professor’s desk. “Mrs. Sullivan; I think something is wrong I stuttered, feeling humiliated. She glanced at the test in my hand and then burst out laughing:

“Sorry Pete! I gave you the wrong test. That’s for my World Lit class!” Waves of relief swept over me as I went back to my desk with the test I was prepared for. Too many times in life I find I get in trouble by trying to be someone I am not. It is like purposely deciding to take the wrong test. Not one of us will pass the exam which God has prepared for someone else. But no matter what we are going through He has promised His help when we are taking our own test!

man in black and white polo shirt beside writing board

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