God on Monday
'At once the Spirit sent him out into the wilderness, and he was in the wilderness forty days, being tempted by Satan. He was with the wild animals, and angels attended him.' (Mark 1.12-13)
Welcome to the sixth God on Monday reflection on ‘purpose’!
I feel privileged to have been surrounded, as a child and adult, by purpose-driven people. Without their inspiration, I cannot imagine what would have become of me. My sense of indebtedness and gratitude to them motivates my work, much of which is focused on purpose-driven people today and in the past.
For many of these people, their strong sense of purpose has been inspired by the many purpose-driven people in history, including biblical history, such as Moses, Paul, Mother Teresa, Daniel, Florence Nightingale, Mary, Elijah, Edith Cavell, and John the Baptist. Yet all these people found their purpose not within themselves but in the purposes of God.
Indeed, the most purpose-driven person ever to have walked the earth - Jesus Christ – is the person in whom those purposes were most central and most fully fulfilled. The moment he appeared on the banks of the Jordan, John the Baptist knew he was witnessing the embodiment of those purposes: ‘Here is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!’ (Jn 1. 29). The truth of these prophetic words was confirmed by a voice from heaven as Jesus came up out of the water: ‘You are my Son, the Beloved: with you I am well pleased.’ (Mk 1.11).
With such affirmation, and with the Holy Spirit descending upon him like a dove, one might have thought Jesus would be all set to launch his ministry of preaching, healing the sick and raising the dead. Instead, however, he is driven by the Holy Spirit into the wilderness, where for 40 days he disappears from human sight to do battle with temptation and the devil.
In scripture, a period of 40 days generally signals a time in which God is preparing people to fulfil his purposes. For Noah, it was during 40 days of rain; for Moses it was during 40 days on Mount Sinai; for David it was during 40 days of challenge from Goliath; for Jesus it was during 40 days in the wilderness; for the disciples it was during the 40 days between Jesus' resurrection and ascension.
Ash Wednesday marks the start of the 40 days leading up to Easter often referred to as Lent. Because of all its deprivations, the pandemic has resembled an extended Lent. Many of our workplaces have looked or felt like wildernesses. Why not take some time to reconsider God’s purposes for those workplaces? For this is where the Holy Spirit has driven us. In engaging there in spiritual battle, we will discover, like many before us, what on earth we are here for.
Peter Heslam, Director, Faith in Business