In Matthew chapter 3, Jesus is baptized by John the Baptist. This is what happens immediately after:
“As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him. And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.” (Matthew 3:16-17 NIV)
In the following chapter, Jesus is sent into the wilderness to be tempted. After that, he begins to preach, calls his first disciples, and heals the sick.
This scenario certainly goes against convention. Jesus has an incredible moment being identified by God as His Son, and then immediately after He endures a period of suffering in the wilderness. The beginning of His ministry then comes out of these two stories.
This doesn’t seem far from what many of our journeys are like. We experience salvation, and because we discover who Jesus is we discover who we really are. However, when our excitement and momentum fades, we are sometimes left feeling like we are in the wilderness, surrounded by many different distractions and voices.
The wilderness is a part of the process, and it’s good for us. It grows us. Jesus went through the wilderness. When we feel like we’re wandering, it’s possible that we’re a lot closer to Jesus than we feel because we’re experiencing what He experienced.
We can embrace the wilderness, and we can be disciplined and alert knowing that the wilderness can grow us. We can even understand that sometimes God calls us into the wilderness, and that His plan is on the other side of it.
As we embark on a new year at River Valley, we want to make it a priority to seek God first in prayer and fasting. We do this collectively as a church through 21 Days of Prayer and Fasting. Together, we faithfully seek God first, trusting in His power alone to create lasting impact in our lives, our church, and our world.