Sports Spectrum Daily Devotional: Friday, January 8

“I will send My messenger ahead of You, who will prepare Your way, a voice of one calling in the wilderness, ‘Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for Him.'” — Mark 1:2-3


As in sport, life comes with its various seasons. Seasons of hardship and seasons of prosperity; seasons of sadness and seasons of laughter. I’m going to describe a season of life, and hang with me here if you can relate. In this season, the future is unknown, and I’m pushed outside of my comfort zones. I’m taking larger steps of faith, and with each step my trust in Jesus is verified by His faithfulness. It seems like one obstacle after the other, and the purpose of each hurdle has yet to be defined. It’s difficult and awkward at times, and I feel as though I’m being stretched to a crazy capacity. When I question if I can endure what’s around the bend, I see a shimmer of light and hope, and I maintain on in the journey. My friends, does this sound like a wilderness season?

When we’re faced with challenges and we’re knee deep in the trenches, this is when God does His best work. Sometimes we have to be in the thick of things to reach full surrender and dependence on Jesus as our navigational guide. Mark 1 says, “The beginning of the good news about Jesus the Messiah, the Son of God, as it is written in Isaiah the prophet: ‘I will send My messenger ahead of You, who will prepare Your way, a voice of one calling in the wilderness, “Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for Him.”‘And so John the Baptist appeared in the wilderness, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins” (Mark 1:1-4).

John the Baptist started his ministry in the wilderness. He wasn’t on a mountaintop high moment of clarity when he embarked on his greatest mission: to prepare a way for the Messiah. Brothers and sisters, when God calls us to do “X, Y and Z,” it may look messy. The puzzle pieces might not all fit, the stars probably won’t align, and we could be completely unaware of the outcomes. But, when we hand the details over to Jesus and His guidance, we allow the Holy Spirit to set us on a path that makes eternal, lifelong Kingdom impact.

I’ve found that when my faith is tested, it’s in those moments that I witness a greater love that endures forever. A need for Jesus is the best foundation for Him to work with. Mark 1 later says, “Just as Jesus was coming up out of the water, He saw Heaven being torn open and the Spirit descending on Him like a dove. And a voice came from Heaven: ‘You are My Son, whom I love; with You I am well pleased.’ At once the Spirit sent Him out into the wilderness” (Mark 1:10-12).

First of all, how amazing is it that John the Baptist was able to baptize God in the flesh? Second, do you see what happens right after Jesus is baptized? “At once” the Spirit sent Him out into the wilderness. Immediately, the Spirit wasn’t playing around. This is when Jesus was tempted, strengthened and endured what humans face — all in the grittiest form.

I believe Jesus going swiftly toward the wilderness after His baptism was extremely significant. These wilderness seasons are what strengthen us for the life God desires us to live. Jesus one day was going to face the cross, not an easy task to bear. We see His life as a constant partnership between Father and Son, one never independent from the other. This is how we’re meant to live too.

Take a moment to examine what season of life you’re in now. Preseason, full of preparation for the task of tomorrow? Maybe in-season; God has given you a new assignment and it’s time to execute? Maybe it’s postseason, the stakes are higher and reliance on the Lord’s strength is greater? Regardless the season, it’s significant to know our source is Jesus through it all. He knows what it’s like to live in the wilderness, the lost and the confusion. His servant John cried out in these seasons and prepared the way for Jesus to be glorified through His life.

The Bible says that God’s ways our not our ways and His thoughts are not our thoughts. If it was up to my humanly flesh, I’d say let’s skip the wilderness and head straight to the beach where we can kick back, watch a sunset or two, and see the dolphins playing in the water. Doesn’t that sound better?

The reality is: In order to fulfill what God’s called us to, we have to prepare. The wilderness leads us into alignment, strengthens our dependence and ability to withstand life, and most importantly, in the wilderness we learn that the true key to joy in all seasons is the One who lives within us, and not our seasonal circumstances.

— Karlie Smith

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