February 3

“And immediately the Spirit driveth him into the wilderness.” Mark 1:12

It seemed a strange proof of Divine favor. “Immediately.” Immediately after what? After the opened heavens and the dove-like peace and the voice of the Father’s blessing, “Thou art my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” It is no abnormal experience. . . .

Nay, but, my soul, the very suddenness of the change is a proof that it is not revolutionary. Hast thou weighed the comfort of that word “immediately”? Why does it come so soon after the blessing? Just to show that it is the sequel to the blessing. God shines on thee to make thee fit for life’s desert-places—for  its Gethsemanes, for its Calvaries. He lifts thee up that He may give thee strength to go further down; He illuminates thee that He may send thee into the night, that He may make thee a help to the helpless. Not at all times art thou worthy of the wilderness; thou art only worthy of the wilderness after the splendors of Jordan. Nothing but the Son’s vision can fit thee for the Spirit’s burden; only the glory of the baptism can support the hunger of the desert. (Streams in the Desert)

My father often said he was ‘waiting for the other shoe to drop.’ The idiom likely owes its origin to those living in tenement apartments in large American cities in the early 1900’s. These were flimsy apartment buildings with thin walls and floors, and individual apartments, or flats, were also quite small but still held large families. Men worked all hours trying to make a living, and came home late at night and sat on a bed or chair and took off their heavy work shoes one at a time, sometimes tossing them to the floor with no care for how it may disturb the people living immediately below. If it was very late and the people downstairs were asleep they might be awakened by the first shoe dropping. Then they couldn’t fall back to sleep until the man upstairs dropped his other shoe.

My father’s euphemism meant he was waiting for the inevitable. Although he voiced it with a decidedly pessimistic bent, he actually stumbled upon a spiritual truth. “After benediction comes battle.” Revelation is a grace that serves as the necessary prelude to inevitable testing to follow. Spiritual euphoria is never an end in itself, moments of glory steel us for inexorable seasons of struggle. Embrace the ecstasy of knowing God, and allow Him to fuel the endurance of obedience.

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