A mild-mannered, even-keeled friend of mine recently shocked me by doing something uncharacteristically audacious. She jumped out of an airplane. On purpose! Why anyone would trust life and limb to a couple of millimeters’ worth of ripstop nylon is beyond me, but skydiving, it turns out, is just something she felt com-pelled to try.
Have you ever felt compelled to do something? Driven? Jesus, we are told, was driven to complete his wilderness expedition. Filled with God’s Spirit, Mark’s Gospel reports, Jesus was also pushed by that same Spirit to face formidable challenges and obstacles, not the least of which may have been his own fears. Jesus’ wilderness experience was no spa retreat. It was boot camp.
The church season of Lent is forty days long (not counting Sundays), mindful of Jesus’ forty-day undertaking. Often people of faith use this time frame to develop their understanding of Jesus, to deepen their relationship with him. They may “give up” a luxury, a habit, or a vice as a way to remind themselves not only of Jesus’ wilderness journey, but also of his life’s journey.
But who truly feels compelled to “give up” chocolate or coffee? Is it not more compelling to face a fear, or overcome an obstruction, or blast through a barrier? These next forty days could be the period when you attend to whatever inkling is working on you, whatever God’s Spirit is driving you toward. Maybe this is when you come up with the courage to address a broken relationship; maybe this is when you move forward with plans for that overwhelmingly hard mission trip; maybe this is when you quit your job to follow your calling.
Maybe this is when you jump out of an airplane . . .
Chris Johnson, pastor, Fry’s Valley Moravian Church, New Philadelphia, Ohio
First Sunday in Lent
February 22, 2015