Lent 2: Slow down...

Mark 1:9-15 9In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. 10And just as he was coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens torn apart and the Spirit descending like a dove on him. 11And a voice came from heaven, ‘You are my Son, the Beloved;with you I am well pleased.’

12 And the Spirit immediately drove him out into the wilderness. 13 He was in the wilderness for forty days, tempted by Satan; and he was with the wild beasts; and the angels waited on him.

14 Now after John was arrested, Jesus came to Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God, 15 and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near; repent, and believe in the good news.’ 

My semester started last week. Ask anyone who knows me, and when school is in session, I seem to never stop moving. My Google calendar shows a full schedule. My productivity application, iProcrastinate (clever, right?), has all of my assignments for the semester already plotted out. My phone is almost perpetually on vibrate, and I resort to texting rather than answering individual calls.

The reality is this: I do my best to stop doing homework by 7 at night. I make time for leisure reading, dinner with friends, television, and walks. Even with as much intentional time to myself as I'm afforded, there are times where my life feels like a whirlwind. It never seems to stop. There's a meeting to attend, a person to call or visit, an email to write, a paper to outline, a book or an article to read, a lecture to watch... you get the point.

I imagine that if Jesus had to live out Mark's version of the Gospel in our day and age, he would be even more exhausted than most of us already imagine him to be. He'd have a personal assistant... twelve or more of them, I would think. Appointments would be booked months in advance. He'd have at least a 5 or 10-year plan. There's no way he could fulfill his ministerial goals in 3 years.

Just as Jesus had his own time in the wilderness, so also do we. Lent is an intentional stepping away from the routine. It's about living more deliberately, about paying attention. And even in the middle of the wilderness, life can still happen at a break-neck speed. It can feel rushed, fast-paced, or overwhelming. In the case of Mark's narrative, as soon as Jesus stepped onto the baptismal stage, as soon as he came out of the water, he was on his way into the desert. Usually when something big happens in our lives, it requires that we step away for a bit to make sense of it. It may be stepping away for a weekend, or maybe for longer. It might happen in smaller segments of time, or it might be in big blocks. In any case, these 40 days are a chance to step away. A chance to listen instead of speaking. A chance to sit still instead of running about, hyper-caffeinated. A chance to take stock of where we've been, where we are, and where we're headed.

These 40 days are a chance to slow down... take advantage of it. Just as Jesus came out of the wilderness prepared for whatever was next, so also will we be more ready.