I’ve confessed before that I am not the spontaneous type; I like to know what to expect, when that is at all possible. As a practical planner and organizer, I plot and prepare for tomorrow, next week, the next important event.
Observing Lent has for many years been the most meaningful time of the liturgical year for me, and friends who know this about me have asked what discipline I’ve taken on for the time between now and Easter. I am a little embarrassed to admit that other than maintaining the idea of ‘open hands’, I have no specific study, no plan for a particular discipline as my Lenten practice.
Being in this situation is uncomfortable.
Fidgeting in that discomfort in the pew in worship yesterday, the guidance I needed came from, who else?… Jesus.
The gospel of Mark supplied the lectionary reading for the first Sunday of Lent. It described the newly-baptized, God’s beloved Jesus, rising from the waters of the Jordan river, going directly out into the wilderness.
Into the what?
Not out to immediately begin his intentional ministry? Not making official pronouncements or gathering up helpers and handing out assignments? He didn’t make any to-do lists or prepare an itinerary for traveling from town to town? Not even some impromptu preaching right there from the bank of the river?
No. Scripture tells us Jesus ventured into the unknown.
He had not planned for it, as far as we know, but was compelled by spirit to do so. We are told that He spent the next forty days among wild beasts and was attended by angels. During that time, Jesus denounced the temptations of Satan…talk about uncomfortable!
It seems that not having a plan, not being fully engaged in a formal study, but instead following the way of Jesus, guided by spirit, I can trust my way forward through this year’s Lenten wilderness.
Holy One, hear my prayer,
With my hands open,
I will watch for the wild beasts,
welcome angels that come my way,
and faithfully know that even when the way becomes uncomfortable,
You will meet me there.
Amen and so be it.