The Spirit drove Jesus out into the desert, and he remained in the desert for forty days, tempted by Satan. He was among wild beasts and the angels ministered to him.Mark 1:12
When the priest proclaims, “The gospel of the Lord,” there are certain scriptures that I find it hard to respond to with a cheerful, “Praise to you Lord Jesus Christ.” Mark 1:12 is one of them. How many of us have ever said that we wanted to be more “spirit-led?” I have. It sounds nice to say that someone is spirit-led. But here we see Jesus was led by the Spirit, and where did it get him? The wilderness with wild beasts! The desert where Satan tempted him. Forty days of suffering.
Perhaps that is a similar case for all of us. If the flesh is truly being led by the spirit, the spirit will lead us into a kind of wilderness. A place where we experience a dryness of the soul and a real doubt in ourselves and even in God. Unlike Jesus, we will fail. We will turn. We do turn. I turn.
I often think of being led by the spirit in terms of a kind of silly analogy: Water skiing. The Spirit is driving the boat, pulling us around. To follow where He leads we have only to hold on, keep our eyes ahead, and don’t fall down.
Sounds simple enough, but the problem is that the spirit leads us to places we really don’t want to go. We look ahead and see tall waves. Up ahead is a huge ramp that we don’t know if we can jump. It all looks too dangerous for us. We chicken out and let go of the ropes. The spirit swings back around to check on us, and the ropes are back in our hands. Will we hold on this time?
Jesus held on, and the spirit drove him to a really bad place, the wilderness, to be tempted by Satan. Not long before, he had been baptized in that same wilderness by John the Baptist, and the same Holy Spirit that dragged him out into the wilderness had descended on him like a dove. That dove became the impetus required for the culmination and fulfillment of Jesus’ work on Earth.
It is the impetus for us as well, driving us onward because He knows we have much to accomplish. We cannot sit still. We must hold on to the rope and follow where he leads. Perhaps our persistence will lead to persecution, white, green or red martyrdom. We don’t know for sure how difficult the path to heaven will be, but by holding on to the rope, we know the Spirit will lead us home.