Summary: This sermon is about enduring personal trials and tribulations in our personal wilderness.
Mark, the evangelist, begins his gospel in the wilderness. According to him, the good news of salvation does not begin with mysterious angels proclaiming peace but the good news begins in a dry, desolated place inhabited by wild beasts and demons.
And that is the message of our text - the promise of salvation starts in a place that is lonely, disorderly, and dangerous. Good news begins in the midst of trouble, tribulation, and torment. What seems to be a negative is a vehicle for the positive to occur. What seems to be a trying situation is actually a chance for triumph and victory. What seems to be a mess is actually an opportunity for a miracle to occur. Good news begins in the wilderness.
And, any servant of God can talk of a wilderness experience. At one point or another, we can tell our story of our own private wilderness. We have had that desolate place in our lives where we dealt with temptations and snares. We have been in crooked places and valleys so low that we thought we’ll never get out. We have been in our own private wilderness.
And, if the truth be told, some of us are still in a wilderness.Whether it’s a dying marriage or a dying love one, we are in a wilderness. It may be wayward child or unfaithful spouse, we find ourselves in a wilderness.
We may be in a state of joblessness, on the verge of homelessness. We are in a wilderness. We are in a place where we are struggling for our lives.
If we are not fighting poor health, we are fighting powers and principalities in high places. If we not involve in church conflict, we are in the midst of marital conflict. If we are not wrestling with God,
then we are wrestling with God’s people. We are tried and tested on every side. Wild beasts are trying to devour us. Demons are trying to take over us. Desparation and despair have become our traveling buddies. We know all about the wilderness.
We know every tree, every bush, every hill, and valley. Many of us have gotten lost there. We have been wandering in the wilderness for years looking for a way out.
And, Jesus knows that we have been tempted to give up. Some of us have given into our pain and misery.
We have given into discouragement and doubt. We have lost our faith and given up all hope of seeing our wilderness turn into a paradise. We cry out, Lord how long must I dwell in this barren land? When shall I receive your promise of deliverance? When shall we lay down our burdens and cease from wandering?
Well, the answer may lie in the experience of John.
One could say that he became a permanent fixture in the wilderness. He knew how to survive it dangers and conquer its beasts. Oh he had no gimmicks. No glamour.
No self-improvement program or psychic network. His clothing was scarce and his food was simple.All John had at his disposal was three things. And these three things helped him to survive the wilderness. These were a sense of purpose, a proclamation, and a God given promise.
John had a purpose which was to prepare the way for Jesus Christ. He knew that no matter what his circumstance, he was called to prepare God’s people for the coming of salvation.Likewise, regardless of our situation, each of us has a purpose. There is something that we were created to do. And whatever it is, we are to do it for the glorification of God.
Whatever our profession or career, we should glorify God. Whatever our state or condition, we should glorify God. Whether we are on our sick bed, standing on the unemployment line, or living in the homeless shelter, our lives should demonstrate our faith in God.
If we are true to our purpose, then we will always have a proclamation. We will have a faith story - a testimony of hope. And all of us have a testimony about God’s goodness. We didn’t make it this far on our own graces but only by the grace of God. We all can share our on personal autobiographical sketch of how God has made a way out of no way.
That is our proclamation.We can tell how God fed us when we were hunger; how he gave us a place to lie our head when we were homeless, and how he gave one more day, when we thought we were about to draw our last breath. We have a story to proclaim and people need to hear it.
And, I have come to realize that the best stories come from people who have held on to God’s promise. The best stories come from those who refuse