And the Spirit immediately drove him out into the wilderness. (Mark 1:12 NRSV)

There was a strange story that came out of Vinton, Louisiana one summer. Police there stopped a car with twenty passengers packed in it--none of whom were clothed. No, this was not a college fraternity prank. According to news reports, Sammy Rodriguez, a Pentecostal preacher from Floydada, Texas, told police he and his family fled Texas in their four cars because the Devil was after them. Along the way they decided their clothes were "possessed" and discarded them along with three cars that had run out of gas. Squeezing five people in the trunk, they ventured on. When police tried to pull over the curious car, Sammy sped into the woods and struck a tree. At last report Sammy faces charges, while his family, having fled from a nearby shelter, was at large in the Louisiana woods.

Do you ever find yourself in the woods or in the wilderness? That is where the Spirit had driven Jesus, according to Mark's Gospel. Perhaps Jesus was seeking a time of self-examination. Perhaps he wanted time to reflect on the ministry that he was about to begin. Perhaps he knew this would be the last opportunity he would get to truly be alone. Whatever the motivation, it was in the wilderness that Jesus confronted Satan face-to-face.

What is it that you need to confront in your life? Jesus is ready to help.

God of comfort, help me to confront the issues in my life that keep me from you. In Jesus' name, Amen.

Ron Newhouse

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