Before Bear Grylls.
Before Les Stroud (a.k.a. Survivorman).
Another man went into the wilderness and survived. For 40 days he wandered. He fasted. He prayed. He was tempted. He survived.
As we’ve been drawing attention to through Lent, this season is a remembrance of Jesus’ wilderness journey.
Today in the in-between time following his death and before his resurrection, I’m thinking about what sustained him in the wilderness? What kept him going? One foot in front of another. One day dragging into the next. What motivated him? What did he meditate on? How did he find the will to continue?
When the thirst and hunger threatened to overcome him, what did he turn his attention to? When the heat blistered his skin and burned his lungs, what memory did he draw on?
When conditions aren’t all that good, plants send their roots deeper to find that which will sustain them. I wonder if this was the case with Jesus? Facing what was surely a grueling ordeal (though paling in comparison to what he would eventually suffer), I wonder if Jesus dug down deep allowing his roots to feed him?
With roots in the Jewish scriptures, did he think about others who had wandered in the wilderness searching for the promise land? Did he remember prophets wandering through the nowhere places to proclaim God’s Word? Did he remember exodus and exile and draw strength from the unfailing promise that God would rescue God’s people?
With roots in a Jewish family, did he recall the love of his earthly parents? Did he consider the sacrifices they made for him as he prepared for the sacrifice he was making for them? Did he relive the traditions of his Jewish heritage? Did he find encouragement in the laughter shared, the meals served, the very earthy-ness of his people who had endured generation after generation of hardship?
We put them down when we settle in a place, but they do more than secure us, they sustain us.
I remember Jesus telling a story about folks that were like seeds. Some didn’t let their roots grow and they withered and died. Others did and they grew strong and survived.
As I ponder Jesus’ roots, I pray I am rooted in him. I pray I continue to draw nourishment and sustenance from him as my roots grow deeper into the scripture, family, community he infuses.
Perhaps sending my roots deeper I will do more than survive, I will like Jesus, truly live.
But with the darkness of death surrounding us this Holy Saturday, we have to let our roots dig very, very deep. In fact, we will have to let them dig until the dawn. But, friends, we will find our life… Dig. Dig. Dig.
Life is better together,