Adventure Theology: Do You Hear What I Hear?

[Jesus] was in the wilderness forty days, tempted by Satan; and he was with the wild beasts; and the angels waited on him.
~Mark 1:13

This Scripture, which was a lectionary text the first week of Lent, comes to mind often as I have ventured on hikes recently. Taking up adventure is exciting in and of itself, but the experiences are all the richer because the friends who accompany me love spiritual conversation as we journey. No more real did this verse seem last week as two of us set out on one of the hottest days of the year so far. As we ventured down a trail that we hadn't traveled in a while, the following conversation ensued:

Me: I feel like Jesus going out in the wilderness.
Friend: But Jesus had to go alone. We're not alone.
Me: Well, he had the wild beasts. And the angels. (pause) At least we don't have the wild beasts. Do we?

We did. Or at least to this rookie adventuress they were.

First there were the flies buzzing around our heads. Then I nearly stepped on a toad. My friend barely missed another toad with his boot. We saw turkeys. Ant beds abounded. Before long, our conversation lessened as we had to focus on not stepping on an of these creatures or the poison ivy that had sprouted. Before long, I realized that my eyes were consumed by watching the ground. I was relying totally on my vision and wanted to protect myself from what I could see.

We made our way down a steep incline to discover pink markers that indicated a bike trail was under construction. Unsure of what was ahead in the high grass, my friend told me to wait, and he walked on towards the pink markers. I enjoyed the opportunity to rest, taking deep breaths and closing my eyes that were weary from watching for wild beasts.

Then I heard it from behind me.

Rattle. Rattle. Rattle.

My eyes popped back open, and a with a voice that was far calmer than I expected, I said, "Dude. I just heard a rattle."

He turned around. "Huh?" Silence. Then again, from behind me....

Rattle. Rattle. Rattle.

His voice was firm. "Get over here."

Once I reached where he was standing, we climbed out of danger's way and left the rattlesnake to his abode. As I reflected on this encounter on the way home, I recalled that I had been so consumed with watching for danger that I had neglected listening for danger along the trail. Temptation can take many forms and sneak up on us when we least expect it. As I thought about how frightening it must have been for Jesus in the wilderness with the literal beasts, I also became aware of the fact that God himself had faced emotional & psychological "rattlesnakes" as we all do. The good news of the gospel is not confined to the fact that God suffered, died on the cross, and rose again. What makes the news so great is that God went into the wild for us long before he went to Calvary; God knew temptation and overcame it so that we would not have to encounter the wild beasts alone.

With eyes --and ears -- open, let us journey on with Jesus, the angels, and the beasts that we need not fear.

grace, peace, and Lenten adventure to each of you,
Pastor Darian