When Your Life Feels Like It’s Imploding (aka a Strange Way to Start a Ministry)

When Your Life Feels Like It’s Imploding (aka a Strange Way to Start a Ministry) by Pearl Allard (Look Up Sometimes) Photo Credit: Johanna Froese Photography

My husband read a few verses from Mark at the end of dinner the other night. We’re trying to utilize the draaaaaaging out of dinner that two children expertly accomplish because bedtime is just around the corner. He read about Jesus being baptized, the heavens being torn open, and God speaking. I couldn’t help myself. I just blurted out,

“Why, of all times in Jesus’ life, would God pick right THEN to rip open the heavens and speak from another realm?” I mean, Jesus had lived most of his life already. Wouldn’t it have been nice to do it earlier so people would have misunderstood him less?

My kids and husband are semi-used to me asking all kinds of crazy questions so the husband humored the interruption and the kids piped up.

“Because there were people there, and God wanted them to know he was Jesus,” our 7-year-old daughter said. “He was God, he didn’t have to be baptized for his sins, but he was anyway.”

“It was public,” our 9-year-old son said in that earnest professor-like voice he uses.

When Your Life Feels Like It’s Imploding (aka a Strange Way to Start a Ministry) by Pearl Allard (Look Up Sometimes) Photo Credit: Johanna Froese Photography
Cross in the Sunset PC: Johanna Froese Photography

I pondered their answers. The husband kept reading.

“The Spirit immediately drove him out into the wilderness. And he was in the wilderness forty days, being tempted by Satan.” Mark 1:12-13 (ESV)

Stop! Back up the bus right now! I’d read it before. Heard sermons on it probably. While Jesus had been doing work his whole life, the baptism did mark the beginning of Jesus’ public ministry, like the kids reminded me. But put away the cliché Sunday school answers: doesn’t that sound awfully weird to you?

Why would Jesus be driven into the desert to be tempted right after God rips open the heavens and announces Jesus is His Son? It didn’t even say led or some other gentle-sounding verb.

Driven.

I like the heaven-sent announcement trumpeting the birth of Jesus’ public ministry. I can only imagine how gratifying that must have felt to Jesus who underwent all kinds of being misunderstood in his life. But being driven immediately into the desert? To be tempted BY THE DEVIL for over a month? Does that not strike you as an odd way to start your public ministry?

When Your Life Feels Like It’s Imploding (aka a Strange Way to Start a Ministry) by Pearl Allard (Look Up Sometimes) Photo Credit: Johanna Froese Photography

 

You can go all theological on me (and honestly, I’d love to hear your comments if you do!), but here’s what I get out of it: God’s way of doing things might look counterproductive and completely backwards from the world’s way of doing things. That’s ok. Because God is after something that lasts for eternity.

Right? I mean all you have to do is look on Facebook and you’ll be accosted by a hundred and twelve ways to boost your productivity and market your platform and make yourself STAND OUT in the world. Post here and there and everywhere and shout as loud as you can. Public ministries surely need to sign up for this webinar and this class and buy this ebook guaranteed to solve all your issues in fourteen seconds flat.

The only thing happening in fourteen seconds flat, it would appear from the text, is Jesus being driven into the desert to be tempted by the devil for forty days.

Does your life feel totally unproductive in the areas in which you’d most hoped for productivity? Do you feel like your life has gone from a lush, green garden to the parched, arid desert? Do you sense the devil himself is orchestrating all the ways your life is falling apart?

When Your Life Feels Like It’s Imploding (aka a Strange Way to Start a Ministry) by Pearl Allard (Look Up Sometimes) Photo Credit: Johanna Froese Photography

I love the song lyric from Casting Crowns from their song Just Be Held: Your world’s not falling apart, it’s falling into place. (Do yourself the favor and invest 3:43 minutes to soothe your weary soul listening to this song. Scroll down and click the YouTube link.)

I don’t get it completely. I realize there is strength-building value in the struggle. There is humility for sure. There is a severe dependence on God that might not be present if every day started with a daily trumpet call from heaven. But why so long?

Do you feel like God is breaking you of everything you ever knew? Is He taking from you all the people you love? All the traditions that are familiar and any shred of comfort you’re holding onto?

You already believe God turns all the bad in our lives into an ultimate good at some point in time. You already believe that no matter how hellish our lives can become, when all human options are totally decimated – God’s options are limitless. And you already believe that every child of God has a public ministry of some kind to shine His light. Maybe it started out heavenly and quickly turned hellish.

TAKE HEART.

When Your Life Feels Like It’s Imploding (aka a Strange Way to Start a Ministry) by Pearl Allard (Look Up Sometimes) Photo Credit: Johanna Froese Photography

“Lift your hands, lift your eyes. In the storm is where you’ll find Me.” Look up sometimes. If your life is stormy or feels like the parched desert, I’m praying for you right now.

Dear Jesus, You know firsthand the seemingly backward ways of shining Your light to the world. Please hold onto Your children that are just trying to make it through one more temptation in the desert. Strengthen us. Fill us. Love us in ways that are personally significant. Help us know it’s ok if we can’t hold on, because You’re holding onto us for always. Hold us so close we hear Your heartbeat…and Your love which stopped Your heartbeat for us…and how it beats unstoppable now. In Jesus’ name, amen.

16 thoughts on “When Your Life Feels Like It’s Imploding (aka a Strange Way to Start a Ministry)

  1. I love this piece, Pearl. I love that you are not afraid to question. I love that you look for more than Bible class cliches for answers.

    I love that your family reads and discusses the Bible at the dinner table. How awesome is that??!!

    1. Debbie, thanks so much for your encouragement!! With ball games several nights a week, we’re hit or miss this season, but it’s something to keep going back to. It was a borrowed idea tweaked to work for our family.

  2. Pearl, I love studying words and meanings of words and seeing “new” words pop up in God’s Word. Okay, so they aren’t new in God’s Word. They always been there, but when we notice a word for the first time, the thrill is so exciting.

    I’ve never noticed the word, “driven” before in this particular passage either. Puts a whole new spin on Jesus’ experience. Thinking He went instantly from being gloriously splashed on by God the Father to being tested in the dried-up dessert heat, Wow! And to learn Jesus was driven into the wilderness experiences. Yikes! If we are to experience things like Jesus, okay, I guess we are also going to be driven into some wilderness experiences too, to test our faithfulness too.

    Now, I better go ponder and pray about this new word.
    Thanks for bringing it out into the light so we can look it up!

    1. Michelle, you’ll have to share what you learn about the word “driven.” I’d love to hear your findings!

      The desert places aren’t a fun place to follow Jesus into, are they? But it gives me strength to read Jeremiah 17:7-8 being like a tree planted by the water not fearing drought.

      I’m also strengthened remembering a trip to Death Valley with my college science department. There was no apparent beauty in the landscape hurtling along the highway, but walking through it afforded an entirely different view. My busted camera reduced me to sketching plants and animals which seemed a nuisance at first, but proved to be a blessing as it forced me to study details more carefully. That trip rocketed my respect for the desert.

      But I’m still glad Jesus only had to experience the desert temptations once!

  3. Wonderful post, Pearl! My life seems like it just went from the lush, green garden to the arid desert. It was so helpful to be reminded that Jesus Himself went through a desert time, and that God is holding onto me, no matter what. Thanks!

    1. Toni! Sweet sister. May you be given comfort to endure this season. Jeremiah 17:7-8 was my lifeline during a particularly rocky desert time after my brother died. Praying this verse for you today that all you need will be supplied. Hugs.

  4. Very interesting that Jesus was “driven” to the wilderness. Does that mean in His humanity He did not want to go? Hmm. Something more to ponder.

    Wonderfully encouraging post! We tend to want to do things our way or the world’s way, so sometimes the Father has to “drive” us to do things His way. Which as you pointed out is always ultimately for our good.

    Thanks for the encouragement and the good word to ponder/meditate on.

    1. Wow, Norma – great thoughts!! I’m so glad you added them here! That is a good point to ponder. Spiritual drivers ed? I don’t know. I’m grateful the desert episode only had to happen once!

  5. Hi Pearl, You’re in good company with this blog post! Darren Hardy posted a video blog on Monday that I just happen to listen to today that said practically the same thing (only different!) He was making the point about how our hardships growing up and the ones getting us to today are the very experiences that have the power to make us into better people; if we allow it, of course. For instance, the not so great examples I had for dads actually helped to shape my decisions to be a very different kind of father to my own children. What Darren said followed by your direct Biblical observation was immensely helpful today. Sometimes it is very good to look up!

    1. Christopher, that is awesome! Always good to be on the same wavelength with other brothers and sisters in Christ. What a testimony to God’s grace and glory your decisions are to parent differently! Grateful for your presence here on the blog today. (Or two days ago, rather. Somehow I’m just now seeing your comment.)

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