When we look at the various Gospel narratives pertaining to Jesus' baptism, there's something in common between them, something I find vital to the life of any person of faith facing major life events or crises of faith. Right after his baptism, we learn that Jesus retreated into the wilderness. There, not only did he face temptation, but he also experienced renewal and a period of discernment.
A dear friend and mentor suggested that I treat my last service with Holy Covenant as a renewal of my baptism, and as such, this might be an ideal time for me to retreat for the purpose of discernment and renewal. I think he's right, but I'm honestly afraid. Afraid of what my temptations will be. Afraid of feeling alone or isolated. Afraid of becoming spiritually malnourished. Afraid of retreating from God rather than from the world.
There's a distance between the waters of baptism and the wilderness of discernment. It wasn't as if Jesus didn't have to walk for awhile before he reached the unknown. I have to wonder what that period of time was like for him... what it was like to know what he was about to do and why he was doing it? How did it feel? What did his conversations with God during that leg of the journey look like? Unfortunately, the scriptures don't tell us this part of the story. So we're left with more questions, but then again, aren't we always?
I've left my "baptism," and now find myself walking towards the wilderness. I don't know what it will look like. I'm walking there broken while praying for an increased sense of wholeness and restoration. I'm hoping for an Elijah moment in which I clearly hear God's voice in the silent whispering of the wind, or a Moses moment when I see God in the flames. I'm sure I won't get either of these... mine will probably something different, but I hope it will be there. I hope I leave the wilderness restored, feeling God's presence and direction more clearly. I hope I don't feel alone. I hope I enter the woods knowing I'm loved, and I leave them knowing that reality even more deeply. This is my prayer. I'm scared, and I don't honestly know why. I see the edge of the woods approaching, and suddenly I find my hands shaking, my heart racing, and tears welling up in my eyes. Something is about to change; my hope is that it will be a change for the better.