“You are my beloved Son; in You I am well pleased.” Those were the first words, so far as we know, Jesus heard from His Father.
For thirty years, with nothing to go on but His early history and the words of the Old Testament Prophets, Jesus had lived a normal life, waiting for a change of status over which He had no control. His family had been of little help; they didn’t believe in Him and no doubt thought Him a bit of a lunatic. But now He had heard from heaven. His calling was verified by the voice of the Father; Jesus was ready to proceed!
Before he could launch His ministry, however, before He could pursue the burden of His heart, there would be forty days of fasting and prayer in the Judean wilderness. As anxious as He was to get on with the mission for which He had come into the world, there would first be endless days of solitude, hours upon hours alone with His thoughts. And forty days is a long time, especially without food or water!
Jesus, however, was not alone. Hovering in the background, there stood the evil one, determined to destroy God’s plan for His only Son. Toward the end of His forty-day fast, a visitor, actually the devil in disguise, stopped by to offer Jesus a life of ease and popular acclaim. Most significantly, however, the gentleman proposed a life without a cross.
But Jesus, well aware of His impending death, would have none of it. There were to be life-changing days to follow, days to discover the role His Father had planned for Him, but this wilderness experience was to mark a turning point in His life. He had battled the forces of hell and come through unscathed. His subsequent three years of ministry would reflect the impact of the forty days He has spent alone with God.
And so it is with each of us. We may have neither the time nor the strength to go on a forty-day fast, but we can look to God for His leadership and strength. Almost twelve months, 338 days to be exact, lay before us, days we can waste, or days that can make us something we could never have been … except for God’s blessing on our journey through 2022.
And that’s the kicker here. We squander the days we are given, or we can use them to our good. In short, we can emerge from 2022 a better, wiser, more effective person … or we can waste the year on non-essentials and remain little changed from the person we are today.
Perhaps we could learn something from the Apostle Paul. Despite a tough life as a Christian in the first-century Roman world, he had discovered the secret to a successful and satisfying life. “Forgetting the things that are behind,” he wrote, “I press toward the mark of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.”
There is no other way, and I will grant that level of commitment takes courage. But if you will welcome Jesus as your Lord, I guarantee 2022 will be the finest year of your life.