It’s been a difficult few days in the Fountain household.
It began with my birthday last Saturday (I am still young enough to celebrate birthdays). During the course of the celebration, the electric failed. Investigating the problem we discovered that the washing machine had flooded, beyond repair, and that was the cause of the tripped electrics.
On the Sunday I got into the car, to discover that (to cut a very long story short) the car has an electrical problem. Devices that used to work, no longer do.
There followed a few days of heavy commitments and, in my rush, I needed to use my laptop on Wednesday morning. I pressed the on button and nothing worked. My laptop was doing a really good reenactment of Monty Pythons “Dead Parrot” (this is an ex laptop – bereft of life it rests in peace).
I did the only thing I could do in the circumstances- PANIC!
My laptop contains information for work. Sermon notes, funeral services, policies, funding applications, minutes of meetings, agendas etc etc etc.
My laptop contains personal information. Family history research, photographs, music, videos etc etc etc.
What was I to do, it was all gone?!?!?
Now, the smart ones amongst you will be saying “no problem, it’s all backed up to the cloud, just pull it down”. My response? I know that NOW but, to me, “the cloud” is something that drops rain on the gentle earth!
Thankfully, I have a son who is a genius. He was able to recover my documents, back up to the cloud, put a new hard drive into my laptop (thanks Dan) and get his old dad functioning again.
So, where is this leading?
I had a few days of no computer, and plenty of worry. I trusted my laptop, I kept vital information on it. But, when it failed, I was lost for a few days. It’s a sad fact of life that we do get failed from time to time and many of us carry that sense of being let down into life with us.
As we are in the period of Lent I re-read a well known passage and some words really interested me;
Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, left the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness, where for forty days he was tempted by the devil. He ate nothing during those days, and at the end of them he was hungry.
(Luke 4:1-2 NIV)
This comes straight after Jesus baptism. His baptism was a “high point” moment, the voice of God had declared that Jesus was God’s son and He was well pleased with Him (Luke 3 vs. 22) and yet, almost instantly, Jesus is led into the wilderness by the Holy Spirit. When we read the term “wilderness” we can picture it as being an unpleasant, difficult place and, for Jesus, it is the place where the devil tempts Him. Surely, for Jesus, life should have been easier. God should have let His ministry begin. There were people to heal, disciples to train, teaching to give and yet God leads Jesus into the wilderness.
Perhaps you are familiar with this verse;
Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight … (some versions “direct your paths”)
(Proverbs 3:5-6 NIV)
The danger with reading this verse as a “proof text” is that we can end up concluding that either “God doesn’t love me” , “I am being punished” or “God has let me down and I therefore cannot trust Him” when we find ourselves in the wilderness places. If we expect smooth roads, easy paths we will be disappointed, life isn’t like that, we live in a damaged and fallen world. Jesus didn’t have a smooth ride! In fact, His path will lead to the cross before the resurrection.
I really like The Message version translation which says;
Trust God from the bottom of your heart;
don’t try to figure out everything on your own.
Listen for God’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go;
he’s the one who will keep you on track.
I like to think of “the path” a little like hill walking or climbing. Sometimes the path is great, sometimes it’s hard going but, the view when we reach the top is absolutely breath taking and really worth it. The wonder of all of this is, that we don’t journey alone God wants to journey with us. In fact, the word “trust” here means, to lean your whole weight upon. Therefore, we can lean our whole weight upon God.
Jesus, in the wilderness, leans His whole weight upon The Father and comes through the struggle with the devil. In our trials, wildernesses (is that a word?), difficulties, God invites us to lean our whole weight on Him and keep leaning on Him because, in the end it will truly be worth it. We can trust Him because, unlike my laptop, He will never fail.