Clay lay on his cot constructed with paracord and padded with evergreen boughs. Light slanted through the open door of his shelter. Clay had cut slender trees, hacked off their limbs, then erected a handsome lean-to in which he lay. He situated the shelter near water and foraged for berries. After chinking the cracks with moss and building a fireplace of stacked stones, Clay brought down a deer with a bow. He smoked strips of meat in a smokehouse built by hand. He was set and now had free time on his hands.
Free time to think challenges participants on the Netflix series, “Alone,” more than any other hurdle. Undistracted time brings scenes of Clay’s family to mind, and he longs to be reunited with them. Miles separate him from other humans, and the isolation towers over him more menacingly than the cougar or bears he sees. He contemplates quitting the contest as, unbeknownst to him, others have quit.
Like Clay, Jesus entered the wilderness willingly, knowing the testing that awaited Him. The extended time of isolation plagued Jesus as it did Clay. We deduce this from Satan’s tempting Jesus to throw Himself off a pinnacle to get God to send angels to catch Jesus. God’s intervention would reassure Jesus of His Father’s presence, but Jesus resists this “putting God to the test.” He strikes back at Satan with a quote from Deuteronomy 6:16, which refers to the situation in Exodus 17:2-3.
In Exodus 17, the Israelites found themselves in the wilderness with no water. They grumbled and went so far as asking, ”Is the LORD among us or not?” (Exodus 17:7) The Israelites succumbed to the temptation to doubt God’s presence and goodwill. Jesus, though also thirsty, hungry and isolated in the wilderness, did not cave to grumbling and doubt. Satan tested Jesus’ resolve to do His Father’s will, but Jesus chose God’s will no matter what.
Satan has tempted me to doubt the goodness of God’s will and God’s presence. Wrestling through family members’ deaths, physical pain, and depression, I fought against God’s allowing these drawn out afflictions. Each time, however, a decision confronted my angry, hurt rant. I must either accept the circumstances as God willed/allowed, or reject His will and Him. Would I trust Him when all I had to go on was faith? Would I put God to the test, requiring a sign that He was present and good?
Jesus refused to put God to the test. Jesus bowed to the Father, fully accepting His will, knowing His Father would lead Him from one point of suffering to another until finally He endured the cross.
Read these statements of Jesus’ surrender to God’s will.
Matthew 4:34 “My food is to do the will of Him who sent me and to accomplish His work.”
John 5:30b “I seek not my own will but the will of him who sent me.”
John 6:38 “For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me.”
Mark 14:35-36, 41b-42 “He fell on the ground and prayed that, if it were possible, the hour might pass from him. And he said, “Abba, Father, all things are possible for you. Remove this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.” …”And again he went away and prayed, saying the same words.”… “It is enough; the hour has come. The Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. Rise, let us be going; see, my betrayer is at hand.”
Jesus never sinned against God by doubting Him, though He was sorely tempted. We naturally avoid suffering, but times come when we must be willing to say, “I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to Your word,” as Mary conceded to God.
When we acquiesce to God’s inscrutable will, profound peace follows. Jesus, after He prayed for God to remove the cup, calmly walked out of the garden. He faced his accusers and physical assaults with quiet confidence in the goodness of God and His plan. He likewise calms us in the midst of our wildernesses without removing us from them, but staying with us. He gives peace which exceeds our understanding, when we surrender to His good plan.
Romans 8:38-39 For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
For this week’s meditations, click the link for the PDF of Week 5/March 22-25 Give It Up