Posted by: mikenicholsblog | January 2, 2014

abrupt changes and hard places

Yesterday as I started back to work, I was amazed at how quickly the pace quickened. New Year’s Day had been quiet, uneventful and maybe even a bit blah.  By January 1st, my wife and I are worn out with all of the festivities of the Christmas season. You would have thought that going back to work would have been just a calm, regular day. But no! Snow was everywhere, appointments were canceling and the day seemed to be a bit chaotic (not bad, just chaotic). It reminded me that life never seems to just go along at a calm, regular pace. I ended New Year’s Day a bit bored, but by lunch yesterday, I was almost out of breath. That is just the way life is; wouldn’t you agree? Looking at the life of Jesus in the last two days gave me a great lesson of how quickly our world can change.

As I started my personal journey yesterday into a deeper understanding of the life and words of Jesus, I was astounded by the scene surrounding the baptism of Christ. The events that are involved in the launching of His public ministry have a crescendo effect for me. When I think of Jesus coming out of the water, heaven opening and  the Spirit descending upon Him like a dove, plus the very voice of the Father affirming His Son, it’s hard for me to even fathom the greatness of that scene.

I really wrestled with writing about those majestic moments, but how could I have done them any justice?! Yesterday morning my mind awoke to what happened immediately after Jesus’ baptism … talk about life taking a quick and dramatic turn! Matthew 4:1 says, Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted there by the devil. Even those who know very little about the life of Christ have heard about the temptations that He faced from Satan. The way that Jesus handled the temptations is a model for all believers as they are attacked by Satan. But my thoughts yesterday weren’t so much about the temptations that He faced, but that the Spirit of God would lead Him into the wilderness right after such a glorious launch into public ministry. Can you think of a more abrupt change?

Why would the Spirit of God lead the Son of God to such a hard place? Why does the Spirit of God lead you and me into hard places? Why do the moments of our lives have such abrupt changes from the hand of the Father? None of these questions deserve quick answers.  I wonder if your heart and mind asked any of them as you read?  One thing I am sure of, is that God had a plan in letting His Son be assaulted by temptations from Satan.  And Christ gave us a masterful plan of defense – the Word of God. My purpose in this space is not to answer all the wilderness questions….but to challenge you and me with an important thought.  Does God have the right to lead us into hard places?

The answer is a secure and resounding, “yes!” But are we willing to accept the abrupt changes with a heart of submission, which I believe Christ modeled for us in the wilderness?  There will be challenging events for all of us this year. It may not be a massive temptation, but it could be a job change, a financial reversal, or any number of painful circumstances. When you come to that hard place, will you remember to acknowledge the Father, yield to His will and learn the lessons that He has chosen to teach you?

This week I learned through His baptism, was instructed from the temptations He faced, and also reminded that God’s Spirit has the right to lead me where He chooses.  What a great reminder for me, and I hope for you! When you think of the hard places, let the words of a plaque hanging in my office encourage you.

The will of God will not lead you where the grace of God will not protect you.



  1. Perhaps the hard places make it crystal clear if we are onboard with the Father or not. If we are not living in submission to Him, we may become irritated at the hard places and try to find our own way to wiggle out of the box we find ourselves in. Perhaps we even question his love for us and begin to lose heart and to stiffen under his sovereignty over us.

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