James K. Manley’s hymn “Spirit of Gentleness” includes the refrain, “Spirit, Spirit of gentleness, blow through the wilderness calling and free; Spirit, Spirit of restlessness, stir me from placidness, wind, wind on the sea.”
These words remind us that the Holy Spirit both comforts and compels. The Spirit calms us when we are troubled, but also gets us moving when we are complacent. And the Spirit might lead us to places we would rather not be.
So it was that Jesus had no time to bask in the glory of his baptism. “Immediately,” Mark tells us, “the Spirit drove him out into the wilderness. He was in the wilderness forty days, tempted by Satan; and he was with the wild beasts; and the angels waited on him.” (Mark 1:12-13)
Mark’s account of Jesus’ temptation is short compared to the versions in Matthew and Luke. It’s so short, that if our minds were to drift for a few seconds, we would miss the whole story. Yet its few words are evocative; and taking time to reflect on them can be rewarding. During the next few days, we’ll take time to do that.
Spirit of God, when we are confused, comfort us. When we are complacent, stir us. Do not allow us to be content with where we are today; instead, give us confidence to follow the will of the Father and the way of the Son. Amen.